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.
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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.