Modular B-triple approach runs risk of access exclusion

Proposal for modular B-triples might leave some operators with existing B-triple fleets worse off, Queensland Government says

By Brad Gardner | October 25, 2011

A proposal to introduce a national access regime for modular B-triples might leave some operators with existing B-triple fleets worse off, the Queensland Government claims.

The Department of Transport and Main Roads’ Director-General, David Stewart, has warned of potential problems with a National Transport Commission (NTC) proposal to permit modular B-triples to operate on the type 1 road train network.

In its discussion paper released for public feedback in August, the NTC favours access for 35-metre combinations made up of two A-trailers and a semi-trailer.

Stewart says Queensland currently allows B-triples of up to 36.5 metres in length to operate on the type 1 and type 2 road train networks.

In a written response to the NTC on the discussion paper, he raises concerns operators currently using Queensland compliant B-triples will not be able to use them in neighbouring jurisdictions if a standard access framework is adopted.

"While Queensland supports the discussion paper’s intent of introducing a modular approach to achieving a national B-triple network, care should be taken in the implementation phase due to the potential access exclusion of the existing B-triple fleet," Stewart says.

"The proposed modular B-triple length limit of 35m…could have negative impacts on some B-triple operators as some combinations would not comply with these rules and it may create a separate access regime for different types of B-triples, modular versus non-modular."

The NTC says 35-metre B-triples are safer than the longer variations because it takes less time for motorists to overtake them and less time for the truck to pass through an intersection or level crossing.

Stewart also used his letter to the NTC to touch on the department’s ongoing work on performance based standards (PBS). Transport and Main Roads has allowed 30-metre trucks with PBS accreditation to travel between Toowoomba and the Port of Brisbane.

Stewart says the work has accelerated interest in PBS and that the department is now putting more resources into route assessments to improve freight productivity. He says new infrastructure, where appropriate, is being designed and built to support longer and heavier trucks.

"Although this PBS route assessment work is not specifically assessing road networks for a modular B-triple, the outcomes may provide wider access to these types of vehicles," Stewart says.

The NTC says restrictive and inconsistent state and territory laws are constraining B-triples to intrastate operations. It estimates a nationally-agreed access scheme will significantly slash CO2 emissions while reducing fatalities and the number of trucks on the road.

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