The Flood Relief Permit scheme has been extended until March 27 to allow 36.5m double road trains to access Perth freight depots under escort from Northam and down Greenmount Hill to Roe Highway.
The extension has been authorized by the Government of Western Australia.
It has been reported that 188 convoys of up to four road trains involving a total of 282 vehicles have accessed Roe Highway from Northam since the special conditions were implemented on February 2, 2022.
In the past, 36.5m road trains had to break down into single trailers or 27.5m combinations at Northam to make the journey to Perth.
The new measures have been put in place to help mitigate the impacts caused by the January floods in South Australia which severely disrupted road and rail freight movements.
At the same time, the state government is authorizing the movement of 36.5m road trains up Greenmount Hill carrying fresh fruits and vegetables for the eastern states market.
The special permit is open to any transport operator transporting only chilled perishables, with a South African-based company having expressed interest and likely to begin eastward transport next week.
Permits will be issued under strict regulations, including: trucks only go up Greenmount Hill between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.; they transport products that do not compete with rail freight; and the main engines are equipped with the latest safety technologies, including cabin fatigue monitoring systems.
Since February 2, 2022, Western Australia has allowed 53.5m road trains to run from the South African border to Kalgoorlie, where they are unloaded onto rail or broken down into 36.5m combinations, still in under the flood relief permit system.
This will cease on March 13 following a decision by the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator to end such operations in South Australia on that date.
Last week, the McGowan government announced the creation of a task force to review the state’s shipping industry and supply chains, following disruptions caused by the flooding of the east-west railway line.
“We have allowed these longer road trains to access Greenmount Hill eastbound for the first time after carefully considering the safety of the heavy vehicles involved and the safety of all road users,” said the Minister for Transportation, Rita Saffioti.
“The reasoning behind the 10am-2pm operating period is to limit the number of lighter vehicles mixing with these road trains, which will travel very slowly as they climb Greenmount Hill.
“This is an important step to help the transport industry deliver perishables to WA supermarkets and then be allowed to transfer WA-grown produce to South Africa and other state markets. East, particularly in light of the new flood crisis in parts of Queensland and New South Wales.
“The exemptions are intended to further help the industry restock WA supermarkets following the destructive floods in South Africa earlier this year and to help local producers get their produce out of the state quickly.”