Dear IFRTT colleagues,
This is my first message to you as the new IFRTT Vice President Australasia & Pacific. I wish to thank Dr John de Pont for his service in this position and for nominating me as his replacement.
As there is never a dull moment in Australian road freight transport, I would like to use this opportunity to inform you all of some recent developments that demonstrate our commitment to continuous improvement of the road transport system.
In February 2019 the Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL) will have been in operation for five years. It was introduced to overcome the cross-border inconsistencies that had been a burden on our industry when heavy vehicles were independently regulated by the six states and two territories. Nonetheless, with various inconsistencies surviving in the HVNL, and with Western Australia and the Northern Territory yet to sign on as parties to it, you can appreciate that we have some way to go before we can claim true cross-border consistency. In May 2018 transport ministers agreed to bring forward a planned review of the HVNL by the National Transport Commission. This is already underway, with an expert panel and various working groups being formed. Stakeholder consultation and policy agreement is scheduled for completion in 2019 and legislative drafting is scheduled for completion in 2020. For more information about the HVNL Review: https://www.ntc.gov.au/heavy-vehicles/safety/review-of-the-heavy-vehicle-national-law/
At an industry briefing convened by the National Transport Commission this week, passions were ignited when the subject turned to how the HVNL manages road access permit applications. Long turnaround times and unfavourable decisions were discussed at length, indicating that this subject will no doubt form a significant part of the HVNL Review. Working as a consultant in road access for High Productivity Freight Vehicles (HPFVs) I have often decried the fact that the HVNL does not formally recognise an application for road access until after a vehicle is constructed. In the world of HPFVs, where there can be uncertainty around bridge load limitations and opaque state government policy, many road access applications are speculative and therefore do not align well with the intended order of operations written into the HVNL. I hope that the HVNL Review will make it possible for road access to be determined as a first step in the process of bringing a HPFV onto the road, and that this can be a faster and more streamlined process than it currently is.
Meanwhile, two state government initiatives have recently paved the way for better HPFV road access:
In Victoria, where much work has been done to develop pre-approved road networks for A-doubles up to 30.0 metres long, the State Road Authority (VicRoads) has recently released a pre-approved road network for A-doubles up to 36.5 metres long. Features of the new network include identification of rest areas suitable for 36.5-metre-long combinations, and swept path capacity of geometrically-constrained intersections where individual vehicle performance may need to be considered. For more information about Victoria’s 36.5-metre A-double network: https://www.vicroads.vic.gov.au/business-and-industry/heavy-vehicle-industry/heavy-vehicle-map-networks-in-victoria
In Queensland, where approximately 200 A-doubles up to 30 metres long have been operating under permit on an approved route connecting the outback with the Port of Brisbane via the regional centre of Toowoomba, the State Road Authority (Department of Transport and Main Roads) has now issued a Gazette Notice that removes the need to apply for a permit for operation up to 81.5 tonnes on this route. For more information about the new Gazette Notice: https://www.nhvr.gov.au/files/c2018g00795-qld-class-2-pbs-toowoomba-to-port-of-brisbane-authorisation-notice-2018-no1.pdf
Initiatives like these are indicative of Australia’s incremental transition towards an optimal road freight transport system, and I’m proud to be a part of this transition.
Rob Di Cristoforo
IFRTT Vice President Australasia & Pacific