Group wants ban on large trucks

Intermodal chief executive Ben Higgins and general manager Darrin Smith.       Picture: Jon Bassett
Intermodal chief executive Ben Higgins and general manager Darrin Smith.       Picture: Jon Bassett

“The real risk is what vehicles will be allowed on the Perth Freight Link and, in particular, performance vehicles that can carry two 40ft containers that are fully loaded,” Intermodal Group train container chief executive Ben Higgins said.

The $1.6 billion PFL from Fremantle Port to Roe Highway is in doubt after December’s Supreme Court finding that environmental assessment of the Beeliar Roe 8 section was incorrectly conducted by the State Government.

Transport Minister Dean Nalder is now considering options for other parts of the route, including a tunnel east of Fremantle and a six-lane Stock Road to any new Kwinana container port, as well as trucks with two full containers.

Since 2007, Intermodal’s North Fremantle and Forrestfield depots have increased containers initially taken on rail from about 3 per cent (or 18,000 20ft container equivalents) to 15 per cent (about 100,000) currently on four trains between the depots daily.

“That’s comparable to taking about 13km of trucks from roads each day,” Mr Higgins said.

He said the larger trucks would hinder his 68-employee company’s goal of 30 per cent of containers being carried on rail and port growth figures indicated there would not be enough containers for trains and the larger trucks to compete until after 2022. Intermodal now has slogans on its trains saying they get trucks off roads, mirroring Government advertising that the PFL gets trucks off Leach Highway.

The company wants the larger trucks banned until 2022.

WA Transport Association spokesman Haydn Hampel said the association was confident “higher productivity” vehicles would be allowed and while that may affect Intermodal, “that’s business, it happens every day”.

Mr Hampel said it was “slightly paradoxical” that Intermodal already carried empty 40ft containers to and from the port on trucks.

Mr Nalder said road and rail were both needed and the Government would work to improve truck productivity but also consider road safety, road capacity and “community attitudes”.