Too many loads on our roads when rail is the answer

 

News article: Too many loads on our roads when rail is the answer

[color=#383838][size=3][font=helvetica, arial, sans-serif]“Without trucks, Australia stops” is now a fact of modern life.

  bevans Site Admin

Location: Melbourne, Australia
“Without trucks, Australia stops” is now a fact of modern life. But when all costs are considered, road freight is an expensive way of moving large amounts of freight. And, as shown by ongoing fatal crashes involving large trucks, road freight can also be dangerous.

The main beneficiaries of road freight are not the truck drivers who work hard in a dangerous occupation, but the companies that choose to consign large quantities of freight by road. Road freight has seen strong growth, in part, due to good service levels and major road improvements that include highways with dual carriageways and concrete pavements, climbing lanes, and town bypasses. Over the past 25 years, road upgrades have allowed for the introduction of larger trucks such as B-doubles.
Too many loads on our roads when rail is the answer


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At LAST!  A sensible and reliable piece on the real costs of road freight verses rail freight.

Regards
Brian

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  Matruck Junior Train Controller

Location: Lilliput,Victoria
Unless you are one of the so called Truck Driver's who does work a lot harder then whats quoted there but anyways i wouldn't expect anything less.
  X Class Locomotive Driver

But unfortunately our politicians don't want to know about sensible data such as this.

I was returning to Perth from a family holiday a few years ago in our family car.  We had enjoyed a visit to our south west region and returning home along the South West Highway.  This highway runs parallel with the South West mainline (i.e. railway line) for pretty well all the way from Bunbury to Perth.  I was astounded by the number of trucks we were encountering along this highway.  

We stopped for a refreshment break at a park by the Murray River in Pinjarra.  Here the highway crosses the river, then immediately crosses the railway.  While we were enjoying our refreshment stop, I couldn't help but notice that there was almost a constant stream of trucks going over the bridge.  In the meantime, the boom gates at the level crossing weren't activated once.  Nor did we encounter any freight movements along the railway line while we traversed the highway.  I can't quite grasp the madness of this. It's not as if the South West main is a substandard stretch of railway either.  I haven't driven this route since then, but since then the Forrest Highway has opened (which I have driven on) which is a seemless dual carriage way all the way between Perth and Bunbury running closer to the coast.  (A great highway I might add.)  I would well imagine that many trucks would now take the new Forrest Highway, significantly reducing truck traffic on the South West Highway.  However, I'm sure the South West Railway remains greatly under utilised.  It's very sad and frustrating indeed.
  MD Chief Commissioner

Location: Canbera
Why do you think our politicians dont want to know about data like this?
Why do you think freight forwarders send freight by road rather than rail?
Has anyone ever bothered to ask them.
  freightgate Minister for Railways

Location: Albury, New South Wales
Don't hold us in suspense MD. There are reasons I am sure so what are they?

The article posted does suggest using rail is far less expensive and that does not include the obvious environmental issues as costs.

Also mentioned is the over regulation of rail. Why not change track access fees to an annual subscription for rail operates to level the playing field?

Long distance transport of dangerous goods should be mandated to rail. No question. This law should be introduced immediately. Not to do this further highlights how safety on your roads is lip service by politicians. Nothing more.

Lowering barriers to entry and track access costs will encourage new operators into the network.
  Matruck Junior Train Controller

Location: Lilliput,Victoria
Long distance transport of dangerous goods should be mandated to rail. No question. This law should be introduced immediately. Not to do this further highlights how safety on your roads is lip service by politicians. Nothing more.

Oh this would have to be the best idea i have heard for a long long time maybe you could bring out sum American Railway Experts on carting DG's by rail they are really on top of their game....If you want whole towns wiped out anyway.
  freightgate Minister for Railways

Location: Albury, New South Wales
That is a little extreme.

The truck accident stats online tell the story of the dangerous risk to road users if heavy vehicles in the country.

As for the USA there a millions of car loads of dangerous goods on rail without incident but only really want to discuss Australia where there are unacceptable risks from heavy vehicles on our roads.
  Edith Chief Commissioner

Location: Line 1 from Porte de Vincennes bound for Bastille station
I think it all about the influence of market power on events related to this issue.  The freight shippers have the power over the transportation companies.  They insist on low rates and the drivers get squeezed further.  The argument used on reforming governments is that if the transport companies have to pay for the damage to roads through usage fees, then it will impact the costs of goods and poor people would lose out.  That is, not recovering the cost of road use from trucks  is a tax on the middle class that cannot be removed.  It is a social welfare issue.

Thus we have road freight advantaged over rail freight (which has to recover all of its maintenance costs) and higher accident and mortality rates on roads as a consequence.  If reform is suggested, then truck owner/operators run convoys to clog up roads and annoy politicians to complain that their livelihoods are threatened.

I was wondering if there will actually be enough people around to drive all the trucks required in the future.  I have seen that the freight task is growing at twice the rate of population numbers in Australia.  Will it all be B-doubles, B-triples and small delivery vans ?
  freightgate Minister for Railways

Location: Albury, New South Wales
Good post Edith.

This is exactly my position.  We cannot continue the way we are. Rail needs to pick up the task sooner than later and governments need to step up.

Just look at the issues with grain coats via road as compared to rail.

We also need to encourage smaller operators into the network to our pressure on rates.
  HardWorkingMan Chief Commissioner

Location: Echuca
Part of the issue is rail wants to supply large quantities at once (eg coal) and is good at it.

Most other businesses don't want to stockpile large amounts of goods but work on or close to a 'just in time' principle as they are not then paying to store and hold goods until they need them. The smaller quantities are what trucks are good at.

To give a home example to help explain the issue. People will go food shopping a couple of times a week (or sometimes daily) for the food they need, they don't go out once a year and buy all the food for the year as it causes problems with storage, wastage, pests etc. you also need to find the cash to pay the higher bill.  it is also because people find it easier to spend $200 a week than save $10,400 to pay for a years supply.  Its called cash flow and businesses are just the same. More businesses fail for cash flow reasons than being unprofitable.

So transport is just one part of the equation, it is the overall provisioning and storage you are looking at not just transport costs.
  ZH836301 Chief Commissioner

Location: BleakCity
Sorry, that article is far too unresourced for the claims it makes.

Firstly, trucks pay for road trauma like everyone else - in Victoria, the TAC component of registration in Laverton for cars is $474 versus $1918.

Road user charges collect attributable road costs consisting of $0.38143/L excise of diesel fuel (1.6L/tonne/100km so $40 for average load/100km) and hefty registration fees:

*Heavy Rigid/Dog Trailer - $9209
*Standard semitrailer - $6555
*B-Double - $14769
*A-Double - $14205
*B-Triple - $18153
*A-Triple - $17025

I don't like conspiracies. Freight isn't on rail because it's either too expensive, or too slow, or too unreliable.

It excels at things like bulk transport. Less so for time sensitive stock.
  freightgate Minister for Railways

Location: Albury, New South Wales
Is it rail annoy do it or rail does not want to do it?

Fuel and cemet as timber or lumber are not just in time or time sensitive freight. However this has been shifted to road at a large cost to the community and the environment.

Time sensitive freight has been running on rail for years in places like the uk and USA and other parts of Asia and Europe.

It can work here and should.

I liked the post from hard working man. Appreciate that.
  donttellmywife Chief Commissioner

Location: Antofagasta
Road user charges collect attributable road costs consisting of $0.38143/L excise of diesel fuel (1.6L/tonne/100km so $40 for average load/100km) and hefty registration fees:
ZH836301

That looks like the full excise rate.  Have you taken into account the excise rebate for heavy vehicles?
  ZH836301 Chief Commissioner

Location: BleakCity
Correct, I haven't.

The fuel tax credits are about 12c - it's defined as the excise less the road user charge for heavy vehicles.

It's not a subsidy as such, really it's an exemption from fuel excise - ie. so they're essentially only paying for the costs of road use.

Off-road (private) use, maritime, rail, generation, etc. aren't charged any excise either - they are charged the carbon tax (so don't get full 38c/L back).

Heavy vehicles are intended to be charged the carbon tax from 07/14.
  donttellmywife Chief Commissioner

Location: Antofagasta
The questions are then "Why is the effective rate of fuel excise (excise less rebate) different for heavy vehicles versus light vehicles?" and "Does the total amount collected from net excise actually cover total road user costs?"  

Also - a road built and maintained to take a one tonne light vehicle will incur markedly different costs to a road built and maintained to take a sixty tonne B double.  Should road user charges reflect that?
This is where things start to get interesting.  I'm a bit out of date, but if you go back a few years to say 2006, there was a pretty clear cross subsidy from light vehicles (or lighter trucks anyway) to heavier vehicles, and given it is the heavier vehicles that rail freight competes with, that is to the detriment of rail.

"Fuel excise is a poor proxy for road damage."

It is a shame that the recent road user charging suggestion got shut down so quickly, as some of these issues may have been debated more widely.
  Trainplanner Chief Commissioner

Location: Along the Line
Totally agree with you "donttellmywife"
  ZH836301 Chief Commissioner

Location: BleakCity
Because fuel excise is ultimately a tax, not a road user charge - it exceeds any road user charge that would be attributable to vehicles under 4.5GVM.

The fuel excise exceeds road expenditure.

Also - a road built and maintained to take a one tonne light vehicle will incur markedly different costs to a road built and maintained to take a sixty tonne B double.  Should road user charges reflect that?
donttellmywife

They do.

I'm a bit out of date, but if you go back a few years to say 2006, there was a pretty clear cross subsidy from light vehicles (or lighter trucks anyway) to heavier vehicles
donttellmywife

Correct, due mainly to a lower than average mileage amongst heavy vehicle classes.

The system isn't perfect and there are still discrepancies between vehicle types and combinations.

A 6-axle semitrailer and a 3-axle heavy rigid with 3-axle A/dog trailer can both carry 42.5 tonnes - the former is safer and does less damage, but costs $6555 versus $2739 to register. Funnily enough NZ/Nordic/Swiss etc. use combinations of the latter type as they're better for winding roads since the articulation point is further back. However at speed on highways they're less safe due to the inherently less stable A coupling (two articulation points at Ringfeder rear of rigid and another at front of dog trailer) versus single stable turntable connection for semitrailer.

Another issue is the charging of lead trailers, since they can be used perfectly fine by themselves (albeit odd looking) or may not be used at all (only when a business requires). The lead trailers used in A double combinations are no different to those used on standard semitrailers (except with Ringfeder connector). Another business may also want to certify say 50% of their fleet for B-double operation, yet only runs B-doubles 25% of the time - this flexibility would add 25% to their registration costs, yet their road use would be the same.

It is a shame that the recent road user charging suggestion got shut down so quickly, as some of these issues may have been debated more widely.
donttellymywife

It's on the backburner - there's a lot of work to do on it.

One problem too is you need to eliminate the fuel excise on diesel with implementation, and that means either losing revenue from light vehicles (and creating a fuel pricing disparity against petrol) or forcing them into the road user charging scheme. The excise with fuel credits method is quite safe in terms of revenue but can create cross subsidisation amongst vehicle types. However the road user charge requires extensive data to ensure the correct total amount is collected, and the issues regarding private motorists need to be addressed.
  speedemon08 Mary

Location: I think by now you should have figured it out
Freight isn't on rail because it's either too expensive, or too slow, or too unreliable.
ZH836301

And small profit margins for some companies.....

Also when the freight was on rail it sat around in a towns yard until the company had to pick it up. With a truck they can deliver it to the door without triple handling. (Part of the issue with the Fuel trains in NSW)

You'll notice how most modern trains these days run from a specific place/siding to a unloading terminal, eg Kilmore East Quarry to Westall Apex or Maryvale Paper Mill to Westgate dock.
  donttellmywife Chief Commissioner

Location: Antofagasta
Because fuel excise is ultimately a tax, not a road user charge - it exceeds any road user charge that would be attributable to vehicles under 4.5GVM.

The fuel excise exceeds road expenditure.
ZH836301

On its own it most certainly does not.

It depends on what you count as road charges and road spending, but the last reasonably complete set of figures I've seen (2011/12) that allocated things in what seemed like a reasonable way had total government charges and tolls ($18.0 billion, about $1.5 billion of that tolls) behind total government + private funding ($19.5 billion, about a $1.0 billion of that private). This is before considering what I consider secondary costs, secondary charges and externalities.

It has varied over the years, but I think the general statement that primary road user charges exceeds primary road spending is false - at best they are about the same.

See http://www.bitre.gov.au/publications/2013/yearbook_2013.aspx for my source.

They do.

I look forward to you explaining how.


Correct, due mainly to a lower than average mileage amongst heavy vehicle classes.

...and differences in loading amongst classes and differences in the costs incurred amongst classes.
  ZH836301 Chief Commissioner

Location: BleakCity
On its own it most certainly does not.
donttellmywife

It does, in combination with registration charges.

The calculation of road user charges is thoroughly discussed by the NTC and similar.

It has varied over the years, but I think the general statement that primary road user charges exceeds primary road spending is false - at best they are about the same.
donttellmywife

The heavy vehicle road user charge meets heavy vehicle road spending.

Road user charges for vehicles under 4.5 tonne do not exist, and if they did, would be much less than the excise amount.

...and differences in loading amongst classes and differences in the costs incurred amongst classes.
donttellmywife

This is accounted for.
  donttellmywife Chief Commissioner

Location: Antofagasta
It does, in combination with registration charges.

...

Road user charges for vehicles under 4.5 tonne do not exist, and if they did, would be much less than the excise amount.
ZH836301


In 2011/12 registration + excise + tolls was $18.0 billion.  Road related expenditure was $19.5 billion.  Spending exceeds charges.

In 2010/11 registration + excise + tolls was $17.1 billion.  Road related expenditure was $16.9 billion.  Charges exceeds spending.

In 2009/10 registration + excise + tolls was $17.0 billion.  Road related expenditure was $17.8 billion.  Spending exceeds charges.

In 2008/09 registration + excise + tolls was $15.9 billion.  Road related expenditure was $18.5 billion.  Spending exceeds charges.

In 2007/08 registration + excise + tolls was $16.2 billion.  Road related expenditure was $15.9 billion.  Charges exceeds spending.

Some more, some less.  The best you can say is that they are about the same.

Go back before that and you do have a situation where charges exceed spending for a significant period of time and for a reasonable margin.  But that is historical.  

Currently, considering the entire road fleet and with the cost and charge allocation used above, the excise is very much acting as a proxy for a road user charge.  If you were to formalise that (which is what I think should happen) with the current spending pattern, it would not be "much less than the excise amount".

The charge figures above don't include things like GST and FBT, because those are taxes (hence they have that "T" letter in their acronym).  I pay tax on my electricity consumption, but I don't expect the state to provide gross subsidies for my electricity related costs.
  don_dunstan Dr Beeching

Location: Adelaide proud
Is there a reliable formula used by engineers to calculate the damage done to roads from heavy tonnage vehicles?
  HardWorkingMan Chief Commissioner

Location: Echuca
I think VicRoads must have something they use as their Mass Management Model looks at swept path, weight and road damage.  They learnt that lesson with 'spread bogie' trailers in the 1970s and now there can be a different rate applied to a trailer depending on the results of the tests.  Once the design has been tested and approved once more can be built and will be charged the same rate.

To the younger members a 'spread bogie' was designed to take advantage of a regulation where if the axle centres on the trailer were more than 10 feet apart you could carry an extra ton butthe front axle of the trailer used to get dragged sideways as the trailer pivoted on its back axle on tight turns (such as a right or left turn into a street) and if done at one spot regularly used to rip up the asphalt.  it wasn't too good on that axle or tyres either.  Some people ended up not using them as the wear and tear on the trailer was more that the extra revenue from the extra ton.

Interestingly the tri-axle bogie trailers do not do the same damage.
  Carnot Minister for Railways

As far as grain is concerned, it seems most stock-feed grain is transported direct from the silo to the cattle farm so as to avoid double/triple handling.  Rail will struggle to compete in this area for years/decades to come. That's why most rail-transported grain is your "straight to bulk grain export port" shipment.

I've noticed the Calder Highway has hundreds of these stock-feed B-doubles rumble along it both ways every day.  And a lot of bulk grain is in this daily conga-line as well Sad.
  JimYarin Chief Commissioner

Location: Adelaide, South Australia
As far as grain is concerned, it seems most stock-feed grain is transported direct from the silo to the cattle farm so as to avoid double/triple handling. Rail will struggle to compete in this area for years/decades to come. That's why most rail-transported grain is your "straight to bulk grain export port" shipment.

I've noticed the Calder Highway has hundreds of these stock-feed B-doubles rumble along it both ways every day. And a lot of bulk grain is in this daily conga-line as well Sad.
Carnot


imagine the damage to the road network. b-doubles can do a lot of damage. a lot of damage has already been done on the highway between adelaide and port augusta. the road has become unsafe due to the high number of trucks over here.

why is it hard for rail to complete at this task?

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