It seems that few are against safety improvements, most want cheaper groceries/productivity but many are against larger vehicles, whilst a majority want their goods delivered but do not want trucks to deliver the goods, writes Bob Woodward.
The situation needs to be changed whereby larger high productivity freight vehicles (HPFV) gain greater access while delivering the productivity the population yearns for by way of reduced costs whilst delivering safety improvements.
Somewhat commonly seen in the HPFV arena, are AB-triples, B-triples and to a lesser extent BAB-quads and ABB-quads. Recently there has been some promotion that BA-triples are OK, so what has changed? Previously it was commonly considered (the NHVR included) that an AB-triple is a better performer than a BA-triple from the same vehicle units.
Operators promote ABB-quads over BAB-quad because of their on-road dynamics. If it is about improving the ‘standard,’ shouldn’t then the ‘best’ performance option be promoted? Outside of PBS, AB-triples certainly have a positive history, if operators prefer BA-triples (whatever their reasoning) then there should be benefit in requiring that configuration to be assessed in accordance with PBS Safety Performance Standards (PBS).
Victoria has an insatiable appetite for PBS, everything is a road to PBS. Modular B-triples and AB-triples were embraced by NSW RMS under the Road Train modernisation project. Relatively simple, here is the performance criteria if you comply, then here is the applicable network.
But regardless of whether it is an AB-triple versus a BA-triple or an ABB-quad versus a BAB-quad, the key requirement is ACCESS.
Whilst gaining Access is a minefield, it really should not be that way. There have been many projects and documents prepared as to how to complete access assessments, but most seem to be more focused on how it can be stopped rather than how to make it happen. I recently had an example of a B-triple awaiting access approval, at that stage it had been parked for more than 120 days. With so much history of approvals, we must stop forcing the known good performing safe and productive combinations to go through the cost and drag of PBS.
Access that is based on reference vehicles is extremely limiting as most reference vehicles are not real vehicles. The burden is always on the operator, with some routes having multiple mass restrictions, then the operator is expected to determine the minimum applicable to the task and the route.
If the bridge structure is an unknown it will be impossible to readily establish reasonable assessments for networks. I have been in a couple of detailed discussions around bridges and access. The problem with bridge assessments is the fact that design history of the asset along with the current status need to be known. The design status of many structures in local government areas are unknown and there are nearly 400 local government authorities (LGAs) (excluding Western Australia). Therefore, without the appropriate information, it is difficult if not impossible to conduct a proper assessment.
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