Victoria’s new freight plan must optimise road use, says peak body

Victoria must change the basis for heavy vehicle decision-making from preserving assets to optimising the use of those assets by safe, productive and sustainable vehicles, argues Heavy Vehicle Industry Australia (HVIA).

HVIA made the call in response to the Victorian government’s request for industry input into an update of the state’s freight plan, via either a written submission or survey. Both options close on June 30.

The association contends the best way of improving the safety and productivity of road freight transport, while at the same time reducing fuel consumption and environmental impacts, is to encourage the uptake of:

  • Newer vehicles with better safety features and more advanced emissions equipment;
  • Performance Based Standards (PBS) and other high-productivity combinations; and
  • Vehicles that use alternative fuels and energy sources.

“HVIA notes that infrastructure deficiencies are often raised as long-standing impediments to increasing heavy vehicle productivity and access. HVIA does not dismiss those concerns but calls on DTP to formally adopt the Transport for New South Wales position outlined in its recent Draft Heavy Vehicle Access Policy, namely that ‘… the basis for access decision-making must move from preserving assets to optimising the use of those assets by safe, productive and sustainable vehicles …’,” the draft submission said.

It also argues the Victorian government needs to focus on working with the other states to develop end-to-end networks for high-productivity combinations with consistent access policies and conditions between key points of origin and destination across the country.

HVIA said it will also repeat calls for the state government to change its approach to charging for bridge assessments for access permits for many heavy vehicle combinations, including B-doubles, A-doubles, Performance Based Standards (PBS) vehicles, quad-axle semi-trailers, and vehicle featuring next-generation low- and-zero emissions vehicles (LZHEVs).

What’s more, HVIA will also argue for the extension of road networks for LZHEVs.

“HVIA acknowledges the important work completed and the release of the Victorian network map for LZEHVs operating at increased truck axle loads, but is concerned that as it currently stands, it only allows access for a specific set of LZEHVs,” the submission says.

“HVIA calls for its expansion to accommodate LZEHVs of all types … and to include the West Gate Bridge, as the critical infrastructure link between Melbourne’s East and West.”

HVIA’s chief technical officer Adam Ritzinger contends changing the attitudes of all jurisdictions to one of optimising the use of assets is the key to increasing the use of higher-productivity vehicles.

“It is clear that high-productivity vehicles are safer, reduce congestion, reduce road wear and tear, are more efficient fuel efficient and lead to lower emissions,” Ritzinger said.

“The heavy vehicle industry has focussed on making vehicles and combinations safer and more productive for decades, and these efforts must be met with equivalent regulatory action to fully realise the benefits they offer.”

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