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Investigation reveals flaws in truck permit process

Report into truck and train crash recommends greater coordination of heavy vehicle access permits

By Brad Gardner | June 21, 2013

An investigation into a truck and train crash north of Brisbane last year has recommended government put greater effort into the coordination of heavy vehicle access permits.

A final report from Transport and Main Roads into the crash at Banyo train station last September has highlighted shortfalls in how the permit process is handled.

The investigation found the truck driver was allowed to use state-run roads but did not have the correct permit granting him access over the Banyo rail crossing, which falls under local government control.

“At the time of the incident, the heavy vehicle operator, and therefore the heavy vehicle driver did not have authority to travel on the local government roads,” the report says.

“The investigation team identified that there is no process in place whereby Transport and Main Roads notifies the relevant road manager that a permit application had been received or that an approval had been granted that interacts with the local roads. As a result, a coordinated response did not occur to address the risks of public safety and damage to infrastructure.”

The report says Brisbane City Council should develop a formal process in conjunction with Transport and Main Roads to coordinate permit approvals until the introduction of national regulations, which will be on September 1.

It also recommends Transport and Main Roads establish a process for the coordination of permit approvals and notifications between the department and other road authorities until national regulations begin.

Transport and Main Roads Minister Scott Emerson backed the report’s finding by saying more needed to be done to improve the process governing permits.

“In the short term we want to see better coordination between state and local governments when issuing permits,” he says.

“Responsibility for issuing heavy vehicle permits will shift to the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) later this year as part of a national move toward uniform regulations.”

Under national regulations, trucking operators will lodge applications with the NHVR. It will then go about seeking approval of the relevant road manager before issuing a permit.

The report says the process will provide an assurance that oversize or over-dimensional trucks will have been appropriately assessed.

“There are significant safety and regulatory benefits that will be derived from this approach over the current permit system in Queensland,” the report says.

“The current permit system places the obligation on the applicant to firstly correctly identify every road manager for a particular route and then individually seek their permission for the heavy vehicle movement.”

The Banyo collision occurred when the truck, hauling a 38.5 tonne electrical transformer on a low loader trailer, got stuck on the crossing. The driver attempted to raise the low loader to move the truck. He ran when a northbound train approached the crossing.

“The collision split the heavy vehicle combination apart and the heavy vehicle driver sustained serious injuries as a result of being struck by the low loader. The driver of the northbound train suffered minor injuries,” the report says.

The investigation found that the gradient of the crossing was steeper than the current Austroads guidelines and not suited to low loaders.

“The investigation established that the vertical geometry of the eastern approach to the level crossing is not suitable for low loader trailers, resulting in the heavy vehicle becoming grounded across the level crossing,” the report says.

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