WA operator expands haulage operations into Queensland

A new contract will see this WA operator running eight Kenworth C509 quad road trains in Queensland, carrying payloads of up to 330-tonne.

The fleet being loaded onto a vessel in WA bound for Qld. Image: MinRes

The new C509 fleet will be operated CSI Mining Services (CSI), a subsidiary of Mineral Resources (MinRes), delivering haulage services for a Tier One mining company.

According to MinRes mining services chief executive Mike Grey, the expansion into Queensland is an exciting milestone for the company as it continues a significant period of growth that will see it double in the next two years.

“We are excited to expand our operations into the east coast of Australia, opening up new business opportunities and access to new labour markets,” Grey said.

CSI will employ more than 50 site-based personnel to support the contract.

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Operators need to step up to address driver shortage, says Ron Finemore

Prominent transport operator Ron Finemore has said that other fleet owners need to step up to help address the serious truck driver shortage in Australia.

Finemore, who founded Ron Finemore Transport in 2004, said the road transport industry is in “intensive care” and operators need to work with the government, regulators and other transport bodies to save it.  

“I had a couple of phone calls last week from other operators,” said Finemore at the Australian Trucking Association’s annual conference, Trucking Australia 2024, in response to a presentation given by Austroads about licensing reforms.

“They said ‘The bloody NHVR is hopeless’ and asked me what I am going to do about truck licensing.  

“I said, ‘Well what are you bloody doing about it?’” 

Finemore owns a fleet of 290 trucks, operating in and out of the Albury-Wodonga region along the east coast of Australia, and the driver shortage has seriously affected his business.  

He told the Canberra conference that he is 100 drivers short of what he needs, and said most operators he knows are also struggling to hire enough drivers.  

The proposed Austroads reforms include standardising truck driver training and testing across the states and territories, introducing a “recognised country” scheme for heavy vehicles, and changing the rules around upgrading licence classes so drivers can progress to the next licence class in a shorter time frame, if they can demonstrate enough driving experience.  

Finemore said these are all good ideas, but they are going to take too long to implement.

“We’ve been talking about these things for a long time, and we’re not getting progression,” he said.  

“The issue of the shortage of drivers is getting worse, and the quality of the drivers is getting worse.” 

Finemore said that he employs 355 drivers from the Indian subcontinent, who have helped with his driver shortage problem.  

“It’s a big number,” he said. 

“Some of them have been with us over ten years, and the large majority are very good people.  

“They are no different from anybody else. They want to work, they want to earn a living.” 

He operates a buddy driver training program and ensures that all of his employees understand Australian safety standards. 

“We ensure they have an Australian licence. They don’t work for us unless they have that.

“We have buddy drivers that get paid a high level of money to take them with them, and they sign off on them. So they are taking responsibility.  

“We try to teach them the safety culture that we have in our company.” 

He said he sees opportunities for pilot schemes, for both younger drivers and overseas drivers.  

“I think there’s an opportunity to get a state to do it, and you could restrict it to accredited companies.

“You can hold those companies responsible for who we employ and how we do it.  

“I’m sure there’s plenty of people that would like to do that. We’ve really got to help.

“We need a short-term, medium-term and long-term situation, or else we’re going to be in real trouble and the safety issues are just going to get worse.” 

For more on this story, and others from this week’s conference in Canberra, grab your free copy of the May 12 issue of Big Rigs from your usual outlet.  

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NHVR begins heavy vehicle compliance in Queensland

The National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) will assume responsibility for the delivery of heavy vehicle on-road compliance and enforcement services in Queensland from tomorrow.

Queensland Minister for Transport and Main Roads, Bart Mellish, said the transition of services in Queensland promises a streamlined approach to regulation across Australia.

“The Department of Transport and Main Roads (TMR) has been working closely with the NHVR to ensure a seamless transition of heavy vehicle regulatory services, to establish a safer road network in Queensland,” he said.

“This marks the end of a significant reform program, and is a step forward for industry, who now have a single point of interaction for consistent information about the Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL) and any issues they face as drivers or businesses.

“We look forward to the productivity and safety benefits of having a single regulator for the heavy vehicle industry, with Queensland the final participating jurisdiction to transfer these regulatory services to the NHVR.”

By having a borderless operating model, Mellish said the NHVR will be able to address the greatest risks on roads, improving safety for everyone.

According to NHVR CEO, Sal Petroccitto, the integration will simplify compliance for drivers by providing a more unified approach to heavy vehicle regulation, in addition to strengthening Australia’s position as a leader in transport, safety and innovation.

“By taking the wheel in the ‘Sunshine State’, the NHVR will provide nationally consistent education and enforcement across participating jurisdictions and will undertake more complex Chain of Responsibility and primary duty investigations into duty holders across the supply chain,” he said.

“The Queensland transition is a pivotal moment in Australia’s transport landscape, and by centralising regulatory functions under one authority, we can accelerate regulatory compliance harmonisation across state borders, and drive a safer, more efficient heavy vehicle industry.”

Petroccitto said it will also see a renewed on-road presence of NHVR safety and compliance officers across Queensland, particularly in regional and remote areas.

“Our new operations head office is located in Townsville, expanding our reach and enabling us to boost compliance and improve road safety outcomes in North Queensland,” he said.

“The NHVR’s on-road officers have authority to stop heavy vehicles and check compliance against the HVNL, and importantly, provide information and education to industry where it’s needed.”

In other news, tickets are available for the 2024 Women in Industry Awards night, which this year will take place in Sydney on Thursday 20 June.

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Register your attendance for Women in Industry 2024

Tickets are available for the 2024 Women in Industry Awards night, which this year will take place in Sydney on Thursday 20 June.

The 11th annual Women in Industry Awards will once again provide the opportunity to recognise and celebrate the achievements of outstanding women, with several award categories covering a range of industrial sectors including transport, logistics, mining, manufacturing, engineering, bulk handling, waste management, rail, construction and infrastructure.

The award categories include:

Rising Star of the Year
Business Development Success of the Year
Industry Advocacy Award
Mentor of the Year
Safety Advocacy Award
Excellence in Transport
Excellence in Manufacturing
Excellence in Engineering
Excellence in Mining
Excellence in Construction
Woman of the Year

Building on the list, a new ‘Excellence in Energy’ category has also been announced for this year’s line-up.

Prime Creative Media Event Manager, Chloe Armstrong, said the Women in Industries Awards night is a great way to get all of Australia’s essential industries involved, including transport.

“The annual Women in Industry Awards night allows us to bring people together in a way which shows the dedication and contributions of the women within Australia’s thriving sectors,” she said.

“Following the success of last year’s event, the 2024 Women in Industry Awards will be no different.”

Last year’s event saw Coralie Chapman from Humes Concrete Products receive the Excellence in Transport Award.

Chapman has always had a passion for promoting the various roles in the transport and logistics industry as well as safety around heavy vehicles.

She is passionate about encouraging women to choose transport as a career path, and strongly advocates for diversity and inclusion for people pursuing ‘non-traditional’ careers.

With limited venue space, those interested in attending or sponsoring this year’s event are encouraged to register now.

To find out more, click here.

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Senator Bridget McKenzie plans to get heavy rigid licence

Senator Bridget McKenzie said she wants to show truckies that she can make her way through the gears and get the job done. Image: Prime Creative Media

Senator Bridget McKenzie has said her next ambition in 2024 is to get her heavy rigid truck licence.  

McKenzie, who has led the National Party of Australia in the senate since 2019, made the announcement at the Australian Trucking Association’s annual conference, Trucking Australia 2024.  

“I’ve just got to find the 1200 bucks that it’s going to cost me,” she said.  

“But hopefully by the time I’m speaking to you next year, I will have been out with some of you on the road. 

“Showing you that I can actually make my way through the gears and get the job done.”  

During her speech, McKenzie hit out at the current federal government, particularly Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government Catherine King, for cutting funding for infrastructure projects and not fixing the truck licensing system.  

“It’s time that federal minister Catherine King got out of her office, stopped cutting and delaying projects and took a leadership role, and called all the players that are making these decisions to the table and sat them down and knocked this out,” she said.  

McKenzie said it makes “no sense” that we still have different licensing systems in operation in the various states and territories of Australia.  

“It is nothing more than ego over practicality that this still exists,” she said.  

“If Covid taught us something it’s that sometimes these borders between states are arbitrary and premiers and ministers can use them for completely arbitrary barriers.  

“This licensing stuff is absolutely within that.”  

She said every operator needs to be able to be confident that a driver can competently drive a truck before they put them behind the wheel.  

“That means drivers actually being able to reverse, to know how to tow, to turn in traffic, with a high level of competency before being entrusted with your very, very expensive rigs.  

“And before they are put on our very, very busy road networks.”  

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New ADR will see electric vehicles make more noise

A new Australian Design Rule (ADR) will require new electric, hybrid and hydrogen fuel cell trucks, buses and cars to be fitted with an Acoustic Vehicle Alerting Systems (AVAS) from November 2025.

An AVAS is a safety alert or sound, emitted when an electric vehicle is travelling at low speeds in car parks, intersections and driveways.

This is being introduced for greater pedestrian safety, as electric, hybrid and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles typically run quieter, making them harder for pedestrians to hear compared to noisier vehicles with conventional petrol or diesel engines. 

“As more and more Australians choose to drive EVs we are committed to ensuring that they are safe for the both driver and others using the road,” said Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government Minister Catherine King.

“This is a significant win for the blind and low-vision community who have long been advocating for alert systems like this to be introduced in Australia.”

Minister for the National Disability Insurance Scheme Bill Shorten added, “It’s great that the blind and low vision communities’ concerns have been taken into account to create the Australian Design Rule meaning new electric vehicles will be fitted with an AVAS from November next year.

“This new Design Rule will ultimately improve road safety for everyone on our roads.”

 AVAS will make these vehicles easier to hear by emitting a sound when the vehicle is travelling at low speeds in car parks, intersections and driveways.

A vehicle fitted with an AVAS will not be any noisier than a conventional petrol or diesel vehicle.

AVAS technology is already mandated in the European Union, United Kingdom, Japan, Korea and the United States.

The Government consulted on a draft Impact Analysis proposing a mandate for AVAS for light vehicles and it was strongly supported by state and territory governments, the blind and low-vision community, and vehicle manufacturers.

“We are ecstatic and congratulate the current federal government for listening to our concerns and acting on this very important issue as pedestrians who are blind or have low vision will be able to navigate public spaces with more confidence,” said manager of government relations and advocacy for Vision Australia Chris Edwards.

“All pedestrians should have the right to feel safe and confident when navigating public spaces and today’s announcement is a significant step towards protecting that for people who are blind or have low vision. There is no doubt that this is an announcement that will save lives.”

The new ADR is expected to avoid around 68 fatalities, 2675 serious injuries and 2962 minor injuries by 2060. It is also estimated that it will save the Australian community $208 million.

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NHVR’s Queensland takeover happens this weekend

As of tomorrow, April 20, the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) will assume responsibility for heavy vehicle on-road compliance and enforcement services in Queensland, including vehicle inspections.

Minister for Transport and Main Roads Bart Mellish said, “The Department of Transport and Main Roads (TMR) has been working closely with the NHVR to ensure a seamless transition of heavy vehicle regulatory services, to establish a safer road network in Queensland.

“This marks the end of a significant reform program, and is a step forward for industry, who now have a single point of interaction for consistent information about the Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL) and any issues they face as drivers or businesses.

“We look forward to the productivity and safety benefits of having a single regulator for the heavy vehicle industry, with Queensland the final participating jurisdiction to transfer these regulatory services to the NHVR.

“By having a borderless operating model, the NHVR will be able to address the greatest risks on our roads, improving safety for everyone.”

According to NHVR CEO Sal Petroccitto OAM, the integration of Queensland into the NHVR will “simplify compliance for drivers” by providing a more unified approach to heavy vehicle regulation.

“By taking the wheel in the Sunshine State, the NHVR will provide nationally consistent education and enforcement across participating jurisdictions and will undertake more complex Chain of Responsibility and primary duty investigations into duty holders across the supply chain,” Petroccitto said.

“The Queensland transition is a pivotal moment in Australia’s transport landscape, and by centralising regulatory functions under one authority, we can accelerate regulatory compliance harmonisation across state borders, and drive a safer, more efficient heavy vehicle industry.”

Following the transition, NHVR safety and compliance officers will be working roadside and at vehicle inspection sites across the state, identifiable by their uniforms, badges and vehicles.

“The transition of heavy vehicle services will see a renewed on-road presence across Queensland, particularly in regional and remote areas,” he said.

“Our new operations head office is located in Townsville, expanding our reach and enabling us to boost compliance and improve road safety outcomes in North Queensland.

“The NHVR’s on-road officers have authority to stop heavy vehicles and check compliance against the HVNL, and importantly, provide information and education to industry where it’s needed.”

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Speed limit increase for WestConnex tunnels

As of tomorrow (April 20), the speed limit for the WestConnex tunnels will increase from 80 km/h to 90 km/h.

According to Transport for NSW (TfNSW), final testing and commissioning is underway to bring drivers safely up to speed on Sydney’s motorway network between Homebush and Beverly Hills.

The speed limits for Rozelle Interchange will remain unchanged.

“The change is underpinned by a thorough safety review by Transport for NSW, which investigated the safety of the speed increase,” said TfNSW.

The new speed limit will be displayed on the variable digital speed limit signs within the motorway.

Variable speed limits will still apply in the WestConnex tunnel network, depending on traffic conditions, and motorists should observe the posted speed limit at all times.

The change comes after the speed limit eastbound on the M5 South-West between Belmore Road at Riverwood and King Georges Road at Beverly Hills was reinstated to 100 km/h in October last year.

Transport for NSW executive director customer journey management Craig Moran said: “The motorway was designed to safely allow for a 90 km/h speed limit. After completing rigorous testing and thorough safety checks, it’s a great result for motorists that we can implement this.

“We will continue to listen to the community when they have speed limit concerns, and we will make adjustments on our road network when it is safe to do so.”

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Trial of driverless trucks on hold after eleventh-hour protest

Transurban hit the pause button on the launch of its driverless trucks trial in Melbourne after an eleventh hour protest by the Transport Workers Union (TWU) yesterday.

The six-month trial had been scheduled to begin last night, but Transurban told Big Rigs it has delayed the start while “discussions” continue with the TWU.

The union called for an immediate stop to the “shambolic” trials until “proper consultation processes” are established with the state government, industry, and community stakeholders.

“Due to a lack of consultation with necessary stakeholders, this trial will result in major delays to the critical distribution of freight,” the union said in a statement.

The TWU believes that no automated heavy vehicle should be placed on public roads until there is unanimous agreement from government officials, the industry, and the community that these vehicles are safe.

The TWU also criticised the current trials for not adequately demonstrating the ability of these technologies to interact safely with human drivers, pedestrians, and other road users.

“The recent sneaky strategy of notifying the public through mere lane closure alerts via Linkt is highly alarming and indicates gross mismanagement and lack of transparency,” the union claimed.

Mem Suleyman, the union’s Victoria/Tasmania branch secretary, said the trials could also lead to delays to freight, including vital supplies.

“The community’s safety and the futures of our truck drivers are jeopardized due to this poorly executed plan,” Suleyman said.

“It’s unacceptable that these trials are being pushed by corporations that continue to disadvantage our hard-working mums and dads that work day in, day out to carry Victorians.”

The union said further consulation also needs to address safety evaluations, ethical implications, and community concerns comprehensively.

TWU is also demanding full transparency and involvement of the workforce in discussions about the implementation and impacts of automated trucks.

“Transport is Australia’s deadliest industry, and the introduction of untested technologies could lead to even more tragedies,” added Suleyman.

A Transurban spokesperson said the trial has been months in the making, including consultation with a wide cross-section of stakeholders and communication with customers.

There has also been briefings and industry events for stakeholders to learn more about how smart road technology can help keep our growing cities moving in the future.

The plan for on-road trial activity follows months of rigorous testing at the Australian Automotive Research Centre, before the vehicles were approved by the Department of Transport and Planning and the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator to drive on-road, the spokesperson added.

According to the Transurban’s project website, there will be two driverless Iveco S-Way AS550 trucks used in the trial and they will travel between 10pm and 5am on a dedicated lane not open to other traffic.

The full route extends from the Port of Melbourne, along CityLink through the Burnley Tunnel and the Monash Freeway to Dandenong and back again.

Each truck would carry a supervising driver and engineer on board at all times.

Transurban ran a similar trial at the end of 2022 over three weeks.

With road freight in Australia expected to grow by around 65 per cent in the next 25 years, Transurban said the trial will help it, industry and governments understand what the future of road freight transport can look like, particularly for safety and congestion, as these technologies progress over the coming decades.

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OSOM access update for Cunninghams Gap

Class 1 OSOM heavy vehicles operating under an NHVR issued permit up to 7.5m wide and 60m long may continue to use the Cunninghams Gap alternate route during specified times, following an extension to OSOM access on the route.

These operators can use Cunninghams Gap between the hours of 8pm – 5am Monday to Friday (night travel only) through to January 13, 2025.

Transport and Main Roads (TMR) has advised that to support industry and OSOM movements during the Bremer River Bridge (westbound) remediation period, current conditions of operations will continue beyond Sunday June 30, 2024, for heavy vehicles on the Cunningham Highway travelling through the project site at Cunninghams Gap (between Tregony and Mount Edwards).

This approach will provide Class 1 OSOM combinations up to 4.5m in width and 35m in length to utilise the Cunningham Highway route through the project work site during daytime hours for the duration of the Cunninghams Gap reconstruction period.

Temporary short duration increased conditions of operation restrictions may apply after January 13, 2025 to OSOM movements, which if required will be communicated with notice.

Conditions of Operation

Oversize loads must email traffic.cunninghamsgap@mcilwain.com three days prior to travel to notify the project team of your intention to travel through the work site.

Contact the project team on channel UHF40 if you require assistance to travel through the site.

To apply for permits to access this route, please visit the NHVR Portal 

Operators are also advised to check the Conditions of Operation Database before starting their journey.

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