LIVESTOCK & Rural Transporters Association of SA president David Smith says increased access for triple road trains in SA would have great economic benefit, not only to the transport industry, but also the farming sector.
Mr Smith said the association, which held its 32nd annual conference in Adelaide on Saturday, was working on a trial run for triple road trains travelling from Port Augusta to Dublin.
“The productivity spin-offs, for transport operators and our customers, would be huge,” he said.
“It wouldn’t just be the sheep and cattle industries that benefit. Consider all the freight that goes up to Alice Springs, NT.”
Mr Smith said LRTASA were working on the project with the Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure.
He was hopeful the trial could be undertaken within the next 12 months.
But a number of infrastructure works would need to take place for the trial to happen, including a widening of the Rocky River Bridge, at least one more overtaking lane being created along the stretch and an improved intersection leading to the Dublin saleyards.
Mr Smith said the project would have animal welfare benefits, alleviating the need for crossloading of stock coming down from station country.
He was hopeful if the trial went through, it would be the first stage in allowing greater triple road train access in SA.
“If Port Augusta to Dublin is stage one, we’re hopeful Dublin through to Port Adelaide will be stage two, and Adelaide to the WA border will be stage three,” Mr Smith said.
Mr Smith said another issue the association was concerned about was use of the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator’s online portal when applying for heavy vehicle access permits.
“Seventy per cent of our industry are small fleets and owner-drivers,” he said.
“They don’t necessarily have someone sitting in front of a computer or they may not be familiar with computers, and to find your way through the portal to what you need can be a challenge.”
NHVR access manager Roger Garcia said there were 11,000 registered users of the portal.
“We consider that number pretty good, considering it’s only been around for nine months,” he said.
Mr Garcia said the aim with the portal was to make application processes quicker and easier but he said, like any technology, it would take time for people to become accustomed to it.
“Fifteen years ago, no one was using internet banking, now people regularly use it,” he said.
Australian Livestock and Rural Transporters Association president Kevin Keenan said while the group supported the roll-out of voluntary electronic work diaries, there were concerns it could possibly lead to mandatory EWDs. He said while he could see some benefits from voluntary EWDs, he was concerned it would only be a matter of time before it was mandated they must be used in heavy vehicles, as was the case in the United States.
“In the right circumstance, EWDS can prevent paperwork and warn drivers before fatigue breaches are committed,” he said.
The ALRTA’s opposition to mandatory EWDs was backed up by the LRTASA, Mr Smith said.
Another guest speaker was Thomas Foods International chief operating officer David McKay who said he was hopeful there would be an announcement on a rebuild program for the company’s fire-gutted Murray Bridge facility in the next few weeks.