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Freight on Rail Group of Australia chair and Pacific National boss Dean Dalla Valle has criticised state and federal governments for facilitating the growth of road freight against the best interests of taxpayers.
Dalla Valle on March 1 cited data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics showing a 27 per cent increase in registered articulated trucks like B-doubles, B-triples and road trains. The 2018 Motor Vehicle Census counted over 100,000 registered big trucks in Australia.
“Australian roads and highways are fast becoming conveyor belts for millions of kilometres of truck movements for freight which should be transported by rail,” he said.
In the past, Dalla Valle says trucks have provided the ‘first and last mile’ portion of the freight journey. But he says years of regulation has facilitated a dominance of trucks on many routes which should be serviced by rail.
“Today, federal and state government policies are turbo-charging the roll-out of bigger dimension and heavier trucks with greater access to federal, state and council roads; encouraging an explosion of truck trips over a wider range of routes and distances.”
As an example, Dalla Valle pointed to the decision by the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator to approve roll-out of a 105-tonne, 36.5-meter B-Quad truck on select routes between Victoria and Queensland.
“The majority of Australians would like to see freight hauled by real trains, not road trains,” he said.
“Countless studies and reports – many commissioned by government agencies – have highlighted the growing negative impact of allowing too many trucks on roads. More trucks means increased severity of road accidents, heightened pressure on already overstretched maintenance budgets and a rise in vehicle emissions.”
A 2017 report from Deloitte found road freight produces 14 times the accident costs, and 16 times as much carbon pollution, compared to rail freight, on a per tonne kilometre basis.
“A 1800-metre freight train hauling containers is equivalent to removing 70 B-Double trucks from our roads,” Dalla Valle said. “These facts put rail freight firmly on the right side of every debate.”
This article first appeared on www.railexpress.com.au
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