A reduction in freight trains and an increase of trucks is the reason for deteriorated Victorian roads, according to the Rail Revival Alliance Victoria.
Public relations officer Scott Ramsey said a recently released report by the Victorian Auditor-General identified that 80tonne trucks were transporting freight over roads designed to carry 40tonne trucks.
‘‘Trucks have impacted bridges as well because of an increase of 4000 trucks on roads while 90 trains were lost,’’ he said.
Mr Ramsey said the road between Carisbrook and Maldon (south-west of Bendigo) was a ‘‘prime example’’, while to the east, the road joining Colbinabbin and Rushworth was also a concern.
Mr Ramsey said speeds on rail lines in some parts were restricted to 40km/h while road speed limits were up to 110km/h, something he said was another reason for companies such as Emerald Grain transporting by truck.
‘‘Emerald Grain is one example where the company used 60 per cent road transport to move the harvest and gives a curious response that it would have preferred to have used 60 per cent rail but due to rail issues they had to resort to road transport,’’ he said.
‘‘The lack of reliability and lack of cost effectiveness, which buyers have raised as concerns, has caused some of them to move their operations to South Australia and Western Australia and has also led to VFF Grains Group president Ross Johns seeing an inevitable shift towards more B-double and A-triple trucks to overcome the decline and short fall in the availability of rail transport to move harvests.’’
With this in mind, Mr Ramsey said Victorian Public Transport Minister Jacinta Allan should be using her time talking with local councils and communities, such as Shepparton, rather than travelling to China to enable transport professionals to travel to Nanjing (capital of Jiangsu) to exchange and share knowledge and skills on rail infrastructure.
‘‘Jacinta Allan has failed to meet with local councils and rail organisations to listen to their proposals and aspirations for the improvement of passenger and freight rail in their localities.
‘‘One such city is Shepparton, which has been ignored by the Minister for Public Transport and also by government members for requests to meet to discuss the issues of the inadequate passenger services to Shepparton,’’ Mr Ramsey said.