HAY and grain freight costs from Victoria’s Wimmera region to some drought-stricken New South Wales and Queensland farmers are expected to reduce after the Victorian road train network was extended.
The expanded road train network will include the Western Highway from the South Australian border, the Borung Highway between Dimboola and Warracknabeal and the Henty Highway from Horsham to Ouyen.
To view a map of the extended network permit application details and the truck and load limit conditions for road trains, click here.
NSW Government drought transport integrity adviser Derek Schoen expects the extension will deliver a corresponding decrease in freight costs.
Before the extension road train operators had to decouple additional trailers at the NSW-Victorian border, drive them to the hay/grain pick-up location for loading and then back for recoupling.
“There is a lot of work in decoupling and recoupling trailers, depending on how far you have got to go into Victoria, it could add up to a few hundred kilometres,” he said.
Mr Schoen will notify the NSW Rural Assistance Authority of the new network situation for monitoring.
VFF Grains Group president Ross Johns estimates the extension could reduce freight costs by 20-25 percent.
The Victorian Farmers Federation said the VicRoads extension followed months of lobbying.
Mr Johns said the VFF and its members have been calling out for measures to make it easier for hay and fodder to reach farmers in need.
“VicRoads should be congratulated for listening and acting.
“This change will have a positive impact on many, both those transporting feed and those farmers urgently needing supplies,” he said.
“Given the current dry conditions, facilitating the efficient movement of hay and grain to drought-affected farmers is critical.
“We congratulate VicRoads and the Minister on this first step, and encourage the government to permanently extend the road train network to deliver increased access and efficiency on Victorian roads,” he said.
Mr Johns said the next step is to broaden the drought fodder road train extension to also include livestock and general transport with road trains.
“Once you got this extension and have allowed these road trains to move, it makes logical sense to extend it to normal operations in time.”
He said the Andrews Government is almost half-way through its first 100 days.
“Infrastructure, particularly fit-for-purpose roads, is a key area where the Government could make significant improvements and invest to support Victoria’s agriculture sector,” he said.