WA backs B-triple expansion; criticises high rego fees

Western Australia backs expansion of B-triples but the NSW transport safety regulator has raised concerns about the higher productivity vehicles

By Brad Gardner | October 19, 2011

Western Australia has backed the greater use of B-triples but says high registration fees and the extra length of road trains might limit their popularity among operators.

The Department of Transport’s Director General, Reece Waldock, says the state supports a proposal from the National Transport Commission (NTC) for 35-metre modular B-triples to be given access to the type 1 road train network.

He says Western Australia already grants the units access to networks considered suitable for 36.5-metre road trains, but the large disparity in the price of registering a road train compared to a B-triple is a concern.

"WA does not believe there is any practical reason why a road network deemed suitable for road trains should not allow similar size or shorter B-triples on that network," Waldock says in a letter to the NTC.

"Registration charges for a B-triple ($21, 712) are around twice that of a double road train ($11,578). This is a major disincentive for operators to consider this type of unit. WA has not introduced the differential charge on lead trailers because of the cost impact it would have on local operators."

Waldcok says the safety performance of B-triples is higher than road trains but operators might be tempted to use the latter due to the extra 1.5 metres in length available to them.

Western Australia has also lined up with the NTC and the Australian Trucking Association (ATA) in opposing the use of the Intelligent Access Program (IAP) as a condition of access.

Despite telematics providers recommending IAP be imposed, the NTC found no evidence to show B-triples posed a safety or regulatory risk.

"B-triples increase the prosperity of society with more efficient and productive carriage of goods. They achieve this with no greater noise or inconvenience than a single unit," Waldock says.

However, the NSW Independent Transport Safety Regulator has recommended the NTC conduct further research into the prospect of linking IAP to B-triples.

CEO Len Neist believes the GPS monitoring tool might reduce the risk of the longer trucks colliding with trains when passing through level crossings. He says the NTC analysis did not consider the safety risks of B-triples and A-doubles at level crossings.

Furthermore, Neist says an extensive impact assessment and approval process will need to be completed before the vehicles can operate on routes such as the Newell and Hume highways.

The NTC recommended B-triples be given access to road train routes as the first step in allowing them to operate along the inter-capital eastern seaboard network.

It says the larger trucks have the potential to significantly reduce CO2 emissions, road accidents and the number of heavy vehicles on the road.

Calling B-triples "a quantum leap in productivity and safety", the NTC says: "Not since the broad introduction of B-doubles has Australia had a similar opportunity to impact so positively on the road transport industry’s triple bottom line."

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