MONTREAL, Que. - Driving east toward Rivere du Loup after supper, a steady stream of Train Routier, or Long Combination Vehicles (LCVs) as they are better known outside of Quebec, pass me going the ot...
MONTREAL, Que. –Driving east toward Rivere du Loup after supper, a steady stream of Train Routier, or Long Combination Vehicles (LCVs) as they are better known outside of Quebec, pass me going the other way toward Montreal. The last few pass near midnight as I slow to 60 km/h in the fog.
Quebec has been running LCVs for over 20 years and New Brunswick recently graduated from its pilot project to include LCVs in its special move permits program. Under Nova Scotia’s pilot project, launched late last year, Sunbury was poised to make its first LCV run in late April or early May. Nova Scotia is starting cautiously, allowing each fleet only one round trip per day. This cap will be reviewed after the pilot project is completed.
Add Ontario’s April announcement of its LCV pilot project and the industry is close, in regulations if not in highway infrastructure, to having an unbroken Halifax, N. S. to Windsor, Ont. LCV corridor.
Nova Scotia and New Brunswick have closely co-ordinated regulations, such as the 62,500 kg GVW, 460-hp/1,650 lb.-ft. engines and high-mounted brake lights and turn signals. The “ROAD TRAIN ROUTIER” placard is common, as is the requirement for a Canadian Trucking Alliance LCV driver training course and other qualifications and the right to operate year-round, except in adverse weather conditions.
“Anyone who is using an LCV in Nova Scotia is going to New Brunswick. We have worked very closely with New Brunswick in developing these regulations,” says Mike Balsom, program manager, weights and dimensions policy, Nova Scotia Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal. “Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Quebec, and Ontario have taken steps to work towards harmonization, and for the most part, we are harmonized. In some cases, we’ve moved to follow Quebec’s rules, in others, Quebec has moved to follow the other three provinces.”
He notes that Quebec will be changing its rules to require drivers to take an LCV training course.
According to Vern Seeley, specifications manager, technical services with Sunbury Transport, the four provinces have worked quite closely to co-ordinate their LCV regulations, if not with complete success.
“We have had meetings with Quebec and Ontario: In the last five or six months all four provinces got together to discuss LCV regulations. (OTA president) David Bradley chaired the meeting. We will be having more meetings.”
The main differences include lower horsepower ratings for Quebec (one horsepower per 180 kg GVW, according to Balsom, which comes to 375 hp for a 67,500 kg load) and 425 hp in Ontario. The two provinces only allow LCVs to run nine months of the year. Quebec does not require the roof-level lights.
Eric Gignac, president of Groupe Guilbault, is sore about some of these differences. He has long hoped that Quebec would extend its LCV operating season to 12 months, but it recently decided to stick to nine months a year, like Ontario. He is also annoyed with that high lights requirement:” There is no manufacturer that makes them. And what about containers and flatbeds?”
Seeley responds, “Quebec and Ontario are not happy with the requirement for raised lights. On the safety side we did the tests, and with the raised lights you can easily see the brake lights. We have been putting them on tankers for years, and we order raised lights with all of our new vans.” Seeley readily acknowledges, however,”With existing trailers, some fleets have thousands and it is a nightmare.”
Gignac also believes there was insufficient consultation from the Maritimes.
“They did their own (crap) and they will be stuck with their own (crap), like their request for the 460 hp engines. When you will drive LCVs in the Maritimes, your unit will be specially-equipped for New Brunswick.”
Anyway…permit in hand, Gignac’s LCVs are ready to roll into Ontario as soon as Ontario gives the green light.
On the other hand, says Peter Nelson, executive director of the Atlantic Provinces Trucking Association (APTA),”We invited Gilbault to our LCV committee. They wanted to join us. Eric has had a personal representative on the APTA LCV committee.”
And in reference to the Ontario requirement that participating fleets belong to OTA, Nelson notes,”We are willing to do a lot more for Quebec and Ontario than they are willing to do for us.”
As in Ontario and Quebec, LCV stopping places are still too few (N. B. has 27 ‘refuges’ on Route 2, none on Route 95 and 10 on Route 1;N. S. has seven on Highway 104 and five on Highway 102). The biggest impediment to an LCV corridor is Highway 185 from Rivere du Loup to the N. B. border: Barely four kilometres are twinned, but there is a lot of twinning work underway. Perhaps by its total-twinning completion date, the provinces will have worked out their minor differences and carriers can get on with it.