Group wants ban on large trucks

Western Suburbs Weekly - - News - By JON BAS­SETT

A TRAIN trans­port group claims new large trucks that could travel on a pro­posed Perth Freight Link threaten plans to put a third of Perth’s ship­ping con­tain­ers on rail.

“The real risk is what ve­hi­cles will be al­lowed on the Perth Freight Link and, in par­tic­u­lar, per­for­mance ve­hi­cles that can carry two 40ft con­tain­ers that are fully loaded,” In­ter­modal Group train con­tainer chief ex­ec­u­tive Ben Hig­gins said.

The $1.6 bil­lion PFL from Fre­man­tle Port to Roe High­way is in doubt af­ter De­cem­ber’s Supreme Court find­ing that en­vi­ron­men­tal as­sess­ment of the Beel­iar Roe 8 sec­tion was in­cor­rectly con­ducted by the State Govern­ment.

Trans­port Min­is­ter Dean Nalder is now con­sid­er­ing op­tions for other parts of the route, in­clud­ing a tun­nel east of Fre­man­tle and a six-lane Stock Road to any new Kwinana con­tainer port, as well as trucks with two full con­tain­ers.

Since 2007, In­ter­modal’s North Fre­man­tle and For­rest­field de­pots have in­creased con­tain­ers ini­tially taken on rail from about 3 per cent (or 18,000 20ft con­tainer equiv­a­lents) to 15 per cent (about 100,000) cur­rently on four trains be­tween the de­pots daily.

“That’s com­pa­ra­ble to tak­ing about 13km of trucks from roads each day,” Mr Hig­gins said.

He said the larger trucks would hin­der his 68-em­ployee com­pany’s goal of 30 per cent of con­tain­ers be­ing car­ried on rail and port growth fig­ures in­di­cated there would not be enough con­tain­ers for trains and the larger trucks to com­pete un­til af­ter 2022. In­ter­modal now has slo­gans on its trains say­ing they get trucks off roads, mir­ror­ing Govern­ment ad­ver­tis­ing that the PFL gets trucks off Leach High­way.

The com­pany wants the larger trucks banned un­til 2022.

WA Trans­port As­so­ci­a­tion spokesman Haydn Ham­pel said the as­so­ci­a­tion was con­fi­dent “higher pro­duc­tiv­ity” ve­hi­cles would be al­lowed and while that may af­fect In­ter­modal, “that’s busi­ness, it hap­pens ev­ery day”.

Mr Ham­pel said it was “slightly para­dox­i­cal” that In­ter­modal al­ready car­ried empty 40ft con­tain­ers to and from the port on trucks.

Mr Nalder said road and rail were both needed and the Govern­ment would work to im­prove truck pro­duc­tiv­ity but also con­sider road safety, road ca­pac­ity and “com­mu­nity at­ti­tudes”.

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