Pallas continues 'monster truck' diatribe


Former Victorian roads minister continues attack on higher productivity vehicles, using Parliament to warn of "monster trucks" on Melbourne roads

By Brad Gardner and Rob McKay | October 14, 2011

The former Victorian roads minister has continued his attack on higher productivity vehicles, using parliamentary proceedings yesterday to warn of "monster trucks" being unleashed on Melbourne roads.

Tim Pallas, who held the roads portfolio in the previous government and championed the use of longer and more efficient trucks, is now criticising what he claims is a "secret plan" to allow the vehicles to travel all day and night through suburban streets.

He late last month issued a statement claiming the vehicles "could devastate the quality of life of many local communities".

"Thousands more trucks could roar through Melbourne suburbs night and day under the Baillieu government plan, with no plan to divert the trucks away from communities and without one new dollar being spent on infrastructure upgrades," Pallas claimed in Parliament yesterday.

VicRoads is planning to extend the higher productivity truck trial beyond the Green Triangle to allow the units to use metropolitan freeways during peak-hour traffic.

Mulder last month said the government had not yet seen the VicRoads plan, but Pallas claims it is actively looking at ending operating restrictions.

"This means Melbourne can expect more, larger and longer trucks travelling through its suburbs 24 hours a day," he says.

The Victorian Transport Association (VTA) was highly critical of the Labor veteran last month over his statement and accused him of being ineffectual on freight issues when in office.

VTA CEO Philip Lovel urged the government to work with the industry to improve road freight productivity, including ending the trial stage. Mulder says community and industry consultation will take place before any plan is introduced.

"Those issues would have to be taken into consideration. We’re not going to ram anything down anyone’s throats," he says.

"We have to be very conscious of safety and public amenity."

VicRoads says it is working with industry to finalise a proposal to extend the trial, adding that any councils affected will be consulted.

Despite Pallas spouting about a lack of operating restrictions, any vehicles granted access to the metropolitan network will need to meet stringent safety requirements and be monitored under the Intelligent Access Program (IAP).

Upon announcing a trial of super B-doubles in September 2009, Pallas said the use of higher productivity vehicles was "the beginning of a major change to the way we move freight".

He also mentioned the then government was planning to trial the vehicles in metropolitan areas.

"It will target key freight areas in metropolitan Melbourne and the Green Triangle region around Portland and will be conducted under strict safety guidelines – rigorous performance based standards – the industry will need to sign up to," Pallas said at the time.

The rigs are seen by industry as the solution to meeting a rapidly growing freight task. The National Transport Commission (NTC) recently estimated 35-metre B-triples could, if granted access to the type 1 road train network, slash CO2 emission, reduce the number of trucks on the road, prevent fatalities and generate $1.1 billion in savings.

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