FODDER will be able to move from Victoria to drought-stricken northern markets more efficiently after the Victorian state roads authority, VicRoads, announced a temporary extension of the state’s road train network.
Previously, road trains had only been allowed in the far north-west of the state, but VicRoads has extended the area where road trains will be allowed to include major highways in the Wimmera region, where there are several large hay processors and some remaining farmer reserves of fodder.
The expanded road train network will include the Western Highway from the South Australian border to Dimboola, the Borung Highway from Dimboola to Warracknabeal and the Henty Highway from Horsham to Ouyen.
From Ouyen, the new road train area connects with the previous network where the large vehicles were allowed, meaning continued access over the Murray River into NSW.
At this stage the temporary network through the Wimmera will be in place for six months, although farmer groups are already lobbying to have it made permanent.
The Victorian Farmers Federation, which was a vocal proponent for the extension of the road train network, congratulated VicRoads for its decision.
“The VFF, with our members, have been calling out for measures to make it easier for hay and fodder to reach farmers in need,” said Ross Johns, VFF grains group president.
He said the decision would greatly assist in getting fodder to NSW and beyond quicker and cheaper.
“Given the current dry conditions, facilitating the efficient movement of hay and grain to drought-affected farmers is critical.
“We congratulate VicRoads and the Minister on this first step, and encourage the Government to permanently extend the road train network to deliver increased access and efficiency on Victorian roads.”
Mr Johns called on the government to continue to invest in roads capable of handling the added weight of road trains.
Under VicRoads regulations, road trains in Victoria are permitted to carry up to 85.5 tonnes a significant advance over the average B-Double, the largest mode of road grain transport through areas where road trains cannot operate.
Road train operators are now able to apply for a permit to transport hay and feed to the drought affected areas in New South Wales and Queensland.