Kenworths haul train innovation

By: Peter Schlenk, Photography by: Peter Schlenk


Jason and Charlie Berne of WA family transport business Brompton Road. Jason and Charlie Berne of WA family transport business Brompton Road. Jason and Charlie Berne of WA family transport business Brompton Road.
Brompton Road’s two Kenworth K104s. Brompton Road’s two Kenworth K104s. Brompton Road’s two Kenworth K104s.
Hauling railway wheels in upright fashion. Hauling railway wheels in upright fashion. Hauling railway wheels in upright fashion.

Family-owned operation Brompton Road in Western Australia has come up with an innovative solution to hauling train wheels involving two Kenworth K104s

 

Brompton Road is a small family-owned and operated company based in Bullsbrook, 25km north of Perth on the Great Northern Highway.

Charlie Berne and his wife Julie started Brompton in the early 1970s. Today the couple’s two sons Jason and Tim are an integral part of the business.

Owner//Driver recently caught up with Charlie and Jason at the BP Kewdale truck stop. The boys had just grabbed some breakfast and were about to head off to unload.

"Except for a brief time offshore I have been with dad since the day I left school in ’95," Jason says. "That’s over 20 years now."

Like many operators Brompton Road saw the advantages of specialising. The company has been working for rail companies for the past 30 years.

"I should call myself ‘TNT’, trains not trucks," Charlie laughs. "We are not general carrier, we just specialise in looking after our customers’ needs."

For Bromptons that has meant the need to solve a few tricky problems while working out transport solutions for their clients. The additional services means it’s more than just a transport company.

One of Brompton Road’s big jobs is hauling rail wagons from Adelaide to Port Hedland. Charlie explains that the pilot vehicle costs on that job alone were $280,000.

Charlie and Julie organised four trucks to carry out the work, with help of a subbies, two of which were towing Brompton trailers.

Jason explains that they would unload the cars, take the bogies out of the bins and put them on the track. "We hook up the hoses and either Charlie or Julie do a brake test," he says.

"So we commissioned the cars and that is why secured getting the job and with the combination that Jason’s got, we go up with three wagons and were only using 150 litres more fuel than the trucks carrying two.

"Life is full of challenges and we love challenges."

Brompton’s most recent challenge was moving railway wheels. The wheels come out of Newcastle to Brompton’s yard before being trucked north.

It is a new concept because, previously the wheels were in skip bins unrestrained. The new ‘pallets’ allow the old wheels to stand up," Charlie says.

"Everything is held and restrained; we have a patent pending on this system.

"We think it is pretty good and it’s so simple and yet works so well.

"The wheels go into the robots lying down and they come out of the robot standing up and that’s how we designed it."

Despite their hands-on work, Charlie and Jason both agree that Julie is the backbone of the company.

"She does everything," Jason says. "Mum cooks for us, does the paperwork, the finances and drives a truck, and she keeps us all honest.

"For some families it doesn’t work, but for us I think it is the feature of our business. We all work together for a common good."

Read more about Charlie and Jason, and their Kenworths, in the September issue of Owner//Driver. Subscribe here.

 

 

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