New Richmond rest stop to benefit road train drivers

A new heavy vehicle rest stop under construction at Richmond in outback Queensland will be able to comfortably accommodate several triple road trains at a time, providing a significant safety boost to drivers passing through the town.

The rest stop is one of many projects to be funded by the Morrison Government’s 10-year $110 billion nationwide Infrastructure Investment Program that is now underway.

Assistant Minister for Road Safety and Freight Transport, Scott Buchholz, recently embarked on a weeklong trip in far north and western Queensland, spending time with local mayors and seeing firsthand some fruits of the program.

Buchholz said the location of the new rest stop at Richmond was pivotal to improved safety for heavy vehicle drivers and motorists on the Flinders Highway.

“The Australian Government is pleased to partner with Richmond Shire, under the leadership of its Mayor, John Wharton, to deliver a new heavy vehicle rest stop,” said Buchholz.

“Much of what is being hauled out of this region is significant to our economy; it is food, fibre and minerals. Our heavy vehicle drivers load up and transport these materials for thousands of kilometres and do tens of hours in driving time – each way.”

Buchholz described the distances as unlike anything most road users ever experience, saying there are international flights that do not cover these sorts of distances.

“That is why these rest stops and roadhouses are critical, and it will be great to see this new facility here in Richmond completed,” he said.

“If you are in Richmond, you are more than 1,500 kilometres from Brisbane, and you don’t find rest stops, roadhouses, and service stations every few kilometres, as in the major centres.”

Buchholz said the landscape surrounding Richmond illustrates the tyranny of distance of the Flinders Highway, with Richmond located roughly halfway on the 10-hour trip between Mt Isa and Townsville.

Richmond Shire Mayor, John Wharton, said the truck stop facility would be great for truck drivers coming through the township and he hoped to see more stop in Richmond.

“We want people to pull up and stay in Richmond; half our streets are road train routes – we made them that way so trucks can get around,” said Wharton.

“Trucks are important to the economy and that is why we chose to build the truck stop here, directly opposite the roadhouse.

“When they built it (the roadhouse), Council came and partnered and we cut out the footpath so triple road trains could get in there.

“We wanted to provide a place for the truck drivers to pull up, get a feed and have a shower. We need our truckies to be alert, to be healthy and to be well rested – we all need to work towards that,” said Wharton.

The Richmond Heavy Vehicle Rest Stop is a project being jointly funded by Richmond Shire Council and the Australian Government, through round seven of the Heavy Vehicle Safety and Productivity Program.

Minister Buchholz caught up with at least three drivers at the roadhouse, who were making the most of the stopover to refuel their trucks and themselves.

“Feedback from the lads here was positive, not only the benefits of the roadhouse, but also how good it was to see extra wide road access into the place from the Flinders Highway and the additional height with the canopy over the bowsers,” said Buchholz.

“That makes life a lot easier for the big, multi-combination road trains coming in off the Flinders, which are not uncommon here in regional Queensland, so that is a big tick for safety,” he said.

“The rest stop we’re investing in, on the other side of the road, will build on what is available here and allow more heavy vehicles to pull up.

“The hard work and dedication of our truck drivers and transport operators, particularly during this pandemic, has been incredible – without them Australia would stop,” he said.