“It seems to be getting easier to get access these days,” says Ken Beggs, who owns Beggs Bulk. “When I was trying to get into Victoria, they wanted an engineer’s swept path drawing, theoretical drawing, which doesn’t stand up in real life. I insisted with VicRoads that I would not get the drawings done, but I convinced them to let me do a road trial.
“They had two cars fitted out with cameras and a drone. Once I got them to agree to follow me and attempt one particularly tight roundabout in Mildura, they had the audacity to tell me they had a tow truck waiting there for when I got the trailers hung up.
“I told them I would be able to go though it without touching the white fog lines. They told me road trains can’t do that, but of course I did, and they asked me to turn around, come back and do it again. It’s simple, because of the tri-axle dolly the trailers tend to run up into the corners better than with the bogeys.”
He then got a permit for the road, but only in one direction. Since then the roundabout itself has been rebuilt to handle road trains in both directions. An intersection through which Ken now runs an A-double combination.
How to deal with bureaucracy
“In my days at the bank, I learned how to deal with bureaucracy and so I learnt, you can’t go butting heads with them,” says Ken. “You’ve go to kind of get in the drafting pen with them and then steer them in the direction you want them to go.”
Initially, South Australia would not allow a tri-axle dolly on the truck. They wanted Ken to lift the central axle of the three and chain it up in order to run on the state’s roads.
Getting permission to run with a seven-tonne front axle weight in Victoria, South Australia and NSW, with super single tyres, like the allowance in Queensland, was another project which has worked out for Ken, but there is one issue.
“The next thing we need to push is the fact that with my A-double set-up I can run the front axle up to to seven tonnes, but if unhook that second trailer, I am only allowed 6.5 tonnes,” says Ken. “What the hell has changed? Someone’s going to have to do the work for them to allow seven tonnes on super singles on semis and B-doubles, as well.”
Engagement with the industry associations is also an important issue for Ken and he has been involved for some time with both the Livestock, Bulk and Rural Carriers Association as well as NatRoad.
“It’s very important that you stay involved and support them,” says Ken. “The LBRCA have been real movers and shakers in the industry opening up routes to the East of the Newell.
“The old Road and Traffic Authority had little dynasties everywhere and Duncan Gay (Former NSW Freight Minister and now National Heavy Vehicle Regulator Chair) and it was the same on the maritime side. He got in there, broke it apart and turned it into the Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) and that’s when things started opening up, when they got rid of those dynasties.”