More talk needed over truck trailer changes

16 May, 2008 10:43 AM
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THE Main Roads Department has acknowledged that the impacts of proposed regulation changes to WA’s existing truck fleet were underestimated, and more consultation with the road transport industry is needed.

Farm Weekly reported last week that new laws dictating truck trailers’ axel spacing had the potential to cost the industry hundreds of millions of dollars.

Trucking companies believe the changes will require a com-plete overhaul of pocket road train and truck-and-dog combinations.

Some businesses could be made bankrupt, they said.

The new regulations would make many rig combinations obsolete after October 1 this year.

The transport companies said they were not consulted on the changes and believe a sunset clause of several years should have been included.

South West Express owner Mark Mazza said farmers and consumers would also see an increase in their costs resulting from the changes.

He said the cost of purchasing new equipment or modifying existing equipment to comply with the new laws was now unquantifiable, but could cost the industry hundreds of millions of dollars.

"Pocket road trains and truck and dog combinations will mainly be affected by the regulation change," Mr Mazza said.

"Once these regulations are introduced, some trailer combinations will be rendered obsolete overnight.

"We cannot sell them as secondhand equipment because they cannot be modified to suit the changes and so who is going to buy them.

"There is no resale value at all.

"A lot of trailers are built to specifications and are only of value if used in a certain combinations."

He said there was no industry consultation about the affect the changes would have on businesses.

"Why didn’t they implement a sunset clause of a number of years for businesses to change over equipment?" he said.

Main Roads road network services executive director Des Snook said the department was concerned there may be stability issues with some heavy, 27.5m-long combination vehicles that have short trailers with high-sided bodies, many of which operate in the South West.

Main Roads has engaged ARRB Group, which operates nationally, to conduct a review of the combinations’ operations.

"These vehicle combinations do not meet national axle spacing requirements and are only allowed to operate in WA,” Mr Snook said.

"Therefore, the research had to be undertaken in WA and was based on trials with four WA transport companies. Main Roads will publish the report on its website shortly."

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