With any mass sensitive tasks like bulk tippers, it’s a question of access and the type of combination which can work on any particular route and it is always critical to the success of an operation like Marcay Transport, based in Bolwarrah, about half an hour out of Ballarat in Victoria, where Mark and Kaye Rix run their small rural bulk freight business. Crossing borders into other states simply complicates the issue further.
The fleet has moved over to working under HML rules and the trailers all have digital gauges, which can link into the VDaq system Marcay has had fitted in the trucks. This system is only needed to enable HML running in NSW.
Mark describes running in NSW as a ‘challenging’, but admits, ‘it depends on what shire you are trying to get a permit in’.
“If you log on to look at the map system, you can see the stupidity of the whole system in NSW,” says Mark. “We had a couple of trucks which had to drop down off HML weights and go back to normal.
“This was because there was a road accident and detours in place. The detoured roads were not accessible for HML without a permit and it takes too long to get a permit approved.
“We were one of the first five-axle truck and dogs on the road in Victoria and one of the reasons I’ve moved away from PBS is because of the different laws when you cross the border. We started in 2011, when we built the five-axle dog sets and we’re now 2022 and the system still isn’t right. You’re still applying for permits to go places where you actually shouldn’t need to.
“They want us to build higher productivity vehicles. That’s what they tell us. They need to remove the hurdles. We’re all happy to buy them and all happy to run with them, but they need to make it simple. With the five-axle dogs, now in Victoria, they’re pretty good. You don’t have to apply for many permits. Across the border, still has issues.
“We went back to B-doubles, because the system is still not right. If they want us to have these vehicles, they need to get the network right before we start buying vehicles to do the work.
This has become a major part of Mark’s work, simply organising where the truck can and can’t go. The operation bought the five axle dogs, and they’re not as useful as they should have been, because of access and permit issues. The operation is not getting the utilisation out of a major investment that they should be.
According to Mark, the system functions in Victoria, but not in NSW. He has decided he will continue to apply for permits to run the trucks at HML in NSW, but will not apply for a permit, just for road access.
“You can drive a B-double or a road train in New South Wales on certain roads, but unless you get a PBS permit, you can’t drive a five-axle dog on the same road,” says Mark. “It’s like the A-doubles in Victoria, which are 30m road trains, that’s what they are. If they want us to run them. The governments need to get the system right.
“A lot of us in the industry, in 2013, when we heard the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator was coming, that it was going to be a national body, were very happy. The transport industry was excited about that, but it’s no closer to being national now.”
For more stories like ‘A Question of Access and the Type of Combination’ – see below