Rail companies Aurizon and Asciano want satnav tracking on trucks to determine road charges

 

News article: Rail companies Aurizon and Asciano want satnav tracking on trucks to determine road charges

Rail companies Aurizon and Asciano want trucks to be charged at rates that better reflect their road use by using satellite technology to track the distances they travel.

  bevans Site Admin

Location: Melbourne, Australia
Rail companies Aurizon and Asciano want trucks to be charged at rates that better reflect their road use by using satellite technology to track the distances they travel.

The listed transport companies claim investment in the country's railways will be hamstrung until heavy vehicles are charged at rates that reflect their use of the roads.

Aurizon and Asciano have called for trials of what they describe as ''direct mass-distance location'' charging over the next year. Under the proposed model, global positioning systems and other technology would be used to set charges linked directly to the size of heavy vehicles, the type of road they drive on and the distance travelled.

The companies are part of a group that has called for changes to road charges in a submission to the Productivity Commission's inquiry into public infrastructure. Other members are the Australasian Railway Association and the Australian Rail Track Corporation.
Rail companies Aurizon and Asciano want satnav tracking on trucks to determine road charges


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OK. Now are are starting to tackle the problem.  The cost of running trucks on our roads (especially for grain in regional centres is taking a huge toll on the road network which will cost hundreds of millions if not billions nationally to fix.  This has been ignored by governments given the pressure placed on them by the road lobby.

Grain in particular must go on rail as much as possible.  The costs of supporting roads for grain is 3 times higher than for rail.

The rail group said heavy vehicles bore only a ''minimal proportion of joint costs'' for the upkeep and development of the roads.
The Australian Trucking Association said while ''theoretically fair'', charges based on the actual cost of roads would be too high for users of regional roads. Marginal-cost road-user charges would cause ''unintentional welfare effects due to the vast population spread in Australia''.


And the trucking industry says the above.  Well it probably should happen but if it did we would be out of business.  Guess what?  What's why we have competition. It's called RAIL.

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  bevans Site Admin

Location: Melbourne, Australia
The other obvious benefit to this approach is it is in line with how ARTC charge their customers but more importantly it would serve as an electronic logbook controlled from the national body.  You could not then play with logbook entries.  The system would track your time in the cab and also your distances over the hours and the speed!
  don_dunstan Minister for Railways

Location: Adelaide proud
This is a good development in as much as we now have a situation where private operators are vigorously advocating for equality between trucking and rail; it's a good thing and it probably wouldn't have been possible if the operators had remained in public hands.

HOWEVER I think there's going to be some extreme resistance from the trucking industry to this for a number of reasons, mostly because it moves the model towards a true 'user pays' system where the damage done to roads by extremely heavy vehicles (B-doubles and triples) can be, for the first time, properly calculated. We'll be able to see who the heaviest and most frequent users of the road network are.

But realistically I think that with our current government being so ostensibly pro-road that it's unlikely that they'll do anything that might increase costs/regulation to the trucking industry.
  Graham4405 Minister for Railways

Location: Dalby Qld
"Unintentional welfare effects". Wouldn't the same effects be felt because rail is forced to bear the full cost of infrastructure? What we need is a level playing field. Either both road and rail transports has to bear the full cost or both need to be subsidised! Simple really...
  Toddy Train Controller

"Unintentional welfare effects". Wouldn't the same effects be felt because rail is forced to bear the full cost of infrastructure? What we need is a level playing field. Either both road and rail transports has to bear the full cost or both need to be subsidised! Simple really...
Graham4405

How do you figure that? Last time I saw trains through rural areas went through at 115km/h from Sydney to Perth. Not stopping and delivering everyone's groceries and the local mail that will cost more if this idea is accepted. And before you say rail could do that, they walked away from it years ago.
It might be fine for your truck from Chullora to Parramatta but communities in the Kimberleys or the middle of the country are thousands of kilometres from a rail line. Besides the capital city intermodal routes there is bugger all freight on rail that isn't rocks anyway and this isn't due to trucks getting an unfair advantage. Making the use of trucks more expensive isn't going to fix that problem anyway. Rail was walked away from because of unreliability and double handling and a rail line can't go everywhere.

Bevans comment on grain truck usage on rural roads is a bit silly as well. The increase of grain trucks on bush roads can be blamed on Graincorp closing many smaller silos and making farmers cart their grain longer distances. They wouldn't cart in 100 kilometres if they didn't have to because it means it takes longer to finish harvest. And rail will never be able to play a part in transporting grain from farm to silo. You can also blame the reduction in rail usage for grain on Pacific National wanting out from that years ago and giving the grain industry the finger and the fact that more grain is being used in domestic applications such as feedlots which have no rail access or no need for huge amounts of grain.
  MD Chief Commissioner

Location: Canbera
Mass distance charging for trucks involves 2 variables, mass and distance.
You can easily measure the distance with GPS, but can anyone explain how the mass is going to be measured.
Given that it will have to be done for every truck for every journey.
Can I get the tender to build the 10s of thousands of weighbridges that will be needed.
  Graham4405 Minister for Railways

Location: Dalby Qld
How do you figure that? Last time I saw trains through rural areas went through at 115km/h from Sydney to Perth. Not stopping and delivering everyone's groceries and the local mail that will cost more if this idea is accepted. And before you say rail could do that, they walked away from it years ago.
It might be fine for your truck from Chullora to Parramatta but communities in the Kimberleys or the middle of the country are thousands of kilometres from a rail line. Besides the capital city intermodal routes there is bugger all freight on rail that isn't rocks anyway and this isn't due to trucks getting an unfair advantage. Making the use of trucks more expensive isn't going to fix that problem anyway. Rail was walked away from because of unreliability and double handling and a rail line can't go everywhere.
Toddy

I wasn't commenting on that aspect at all, just the need for a level playing field as far as access fees is concerned!
  donttellmywife Chief Commissioner

Location: Antofagasta
Mass distance charging for trucks involves 2 variables, mass and distance.
You can easily measure the distance with GPS, but can anyone explain how the mass is going to be measured.
Given that it will have to be done for every truck for every journey.
Can I get the tender to build the 10s of thousands of weighbridges that will be needed.
MD

Possbile false premise.  The mass component for mass-distance-location charging may be based off vehicle capability or an average gross mass for that vehicle, rather than actual gross mass.

Also, significant segments of the national highway network already do have weighbridges at some point on them for compliance monitoring.

The submission can be read in full here.  See also http://www.roadreform.gov.au/ for lots of background - particularly in the technical reports.
  qredge Deputy Commissioner

Location: Marsden Qld
In relation to mass detirmination I am sur the access fees are based on a fixed mass per train and speed in the path as well as the time of day.  They do not weigh every train for access fees so it would be similar to trucks- the fee would be based on type of road, estimated load of truck and time of day if in cities ie peak hour etc
That will put both on similar footing except rail still covers all it costs full stop whereas trucks will not.
  donttellmywife Chief Commissioner

Location: Antofagasta
How do you figure that? Last time I saw trains through rural areas went through at 115km/h from Sydney to Perth. Not stopping and delivering everyone's groceries and the local mail that will cost more if this idea is accepted. And before you say rail could do that, they walked away from it years ago.
It might be fine for your truck from Chullora to Parramatta but communities in the Kimberleys or the middle of the country are thousands of kilometres from a rail line. Besides the capital city intermodal routes there is bugger all freight on rail that isn't rocks anyway and this isn't due to trucks getting an unfair advantage. Making the use of trucks more expensive isn't going to fix that problem anyway. Rail was walked away from because of unreliability and double handling and a rail line can't go everywhere.

Bevans comment on grain truck usage on rural roads is a bit silly as well. The increase of grain trucks on bush roads can be blamed on Graincorp closing many smaller silos and making farmers cart their grain longer distances. They wouldn't cart in 100 kilometres if they didn't have to because it means it takes longer to finish harvest. And rail will never be able to play a part in transporting grain from farm to silo. You can also blame the reduction in rail usage for grain on Pacific National wanting out from that years ago and giving the grain industry the finger and the fact that more grain is being used in domestic applications such as feedlots which have no rail access or no need for huge amounts of grain.
Toddy

The volume of freight being carried to and from remote areas of the country by truck is inconsequential relative to that being carried between the capital cities.

While it can depend a little on how you assign costs, there's a pretty strong argument that there is inadequate cost recovery from heavy vehicle traffic, and that there are also cross-subsidies between different traffics that don't really serve any useful purpose.  Both of these are potentially unfair to rail.

The reason rail has walked away from some potential traffic is because it is at a cost disadvantage, part of which is thought to be due to the cost recovery and cross subsidy in the current road charging system mentioned above.  Fix that, and perhaps that traffic becomes attractive again.

(Similarly, the arrangement of silos relative to farms also reflects in part the relative cost of transport. Change the transport cost structure and you may see a change in local transport arrangements.)

The idea of mass-distance-location charging is that you can better match the cost of providing your rail and road networks to the charges that you apply, and that you can also direct the funds from those charges better to the organisations that incur the road maintenance expense.  Consequently people making decisions about transport will feel an appropriate cost difference, and choose appropriately.  It may make some things more expensive and other things cheaper, but overall, it should be a better outcome (cheaper) for society overall.  

Notice its mass-distance-location charging - if any charging reform was going to have a severe impact from a "welfare" point of view for remote areas, then you can directly address that by varying the charges based on location.  There's no need for the tail to wag the dog.
  donttellmywife Chief Commissioner

Location: Antofagasta
That will put both on similar footing except rail still covers all it costs full stop whereas trucks will not.
qredge

Myth, unless you are talking core coal networks.
  qredge Deputy Commissioner

Location: Marsden Qld
I was not suggesting they make a profit but that all costs associated are accounted for in the rail network structure while In the road network most cost are not counted ie police to enforce road rules
Usually rail network profit/loss accounts for most things while a road transport company cost do not
ie rego on truck comes nowhere near equilivent to cost of rail access fee yet both serve the same purpose access to path to travel
  seb2351 Chief Commissioner

Location: Sydney
In relation to mass detirmination I am sur the access fees are based on a fixed mass per train and speed in the path as well as the time of day.  They do not weigh every train for access fees so it would be similar to trucks- the fee would be based on type of road, estimated load of truck and time of day if in cities ie peak hour etc
That will put both on similar footing except rail still covers all it costs full stop whereas trucks will not.
"qredge"

Any train that enters the ARTC network submits a path request that aligns to a maximum tonnage. On the day the train runs, they then provide actual tonnage, and are given a load for the weight of every vehicle on the train. So yes, they do weigh the trains.
  qredge Deputy Commissioner

Location: Marsden Qld
So the rail company advise the access provider of its weight and is charged accordingly?
I assume then it would be the same for the trucks-the ones that are never overloaded nor exceed the speed nor exceed the hours of driving? The incentive would be to underreport the load to get a cheaper access fee-another loophole for them!
  donttellmywife Chief Commissioner

Location: Antofagasta
So the rail company advise the access provider of its weight and is charged accordingly?
I assume then it would be the same for the trucks-the ones that are never overloaded nor exceed the speed nor exceed the hours of driving? The incentive would be to underreport the load to get a cheaper access fee-another loophole for them!
qredge

You deal with that using random checks with portable weighbridges, as is done now.

I was not suggesting they make a profit but that all costs associated are accounted for in the rail network structure while In the road network most cost are not counted ie police to enforce road rules

Usually rail network profit/loss accounts for most things while a road transport company cost do not

ie rego on truck comes nowhere near equilivent to cost of rail access fee yet both serve the same purpose access to path to travel
qredge


But this proposal won't change the general government costs that are allocated to road traffic.  That's a separate issue.

This proposal changes the way that road costs are recovered, so that users that cause higher costs end up paying more, users that cause lower costs pay less.  Depending on how things are done, it may also allow the road authorities that have to cover the cost having a more direct funding source (It's true that both of these aspects is more or less what the current rail charging systems attempt to do as well.)

The biggest single source of road use related charges is fuel excise, not registration.  Fuel excise is a variable charge, but it only varies with the amount of fuel burnt.  That's sort of a first approximation to how much any road is being used, but it doesn't vary much in response to things like congestion (when and where is the fuel being burnt), road damage contribution or capital construction requirement, or any sort of society benefit aspect.  

Registration is a fixed charge.  If you register a truck and then for some bizarre reason never drove it out of its home depot, it still incurs the same charge, even though it never contributed to road damage or congestion or whatever.  What's likely to happen if this sort of proposal is that fixed charges such as registration would be decreased relative to the variable charge.
  Trainplanner Chief Commissioner

Location: Along the Line
What gives some encouragement about this is the indication that the Rail Industry as a collective is starting to talk with a united voice about creating a level playing field rather than simply just advocates for rail making the noise.   The road industry as a collective is extremely organised in the way it lobbies its case (like it or not) and to see advocates, rail operators and industry reps uniting is a real positive change.  It needs to be unrelenting though as there are many issues to be tackled to give rail a level playing field.  seeing NSW being much more pro-active around inspections of trucks etc is also a positive.

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