HVIA Calls For Consistency On Mass Limit Increases

While Victoria moves on axle mass limit increases necessary to drive freight industry decarbonisation, HVIA highlights the need for national consistency across scope, details, and administration

Victoria recently became the latest state to increase axle mass limits for the next generation of low- and zero-emissions heavy vehicles.

Preliminary details were released last week during a ‘Freight Industry Decarbonisation Summit’ held by Freight Victoria in Melbourne.

HVIA attended the summit and understands the Victorian Department of Transport granted a three-year period permit to Volvo Group Australia to operate a semi-trailer combination that includes a battery electric prime mover with a steer axle load of up to 7.5 tonnes on a network of state-owned roads in Victoria.

Naturally, increased axle load limits for low- and zero-emissions heavy vehicles are welcomed. Industry has long highlighted the need for increases and advocated extensively for reforms.

Notwithstanding this, HVIA highlights the urgent need for national consistency across the scope, details, and administration of the separate state-based schemes.

Crucially, several differences have emerged across each of the recent announcements, including: varying applicability to vehicle and combination types; varying axle mass and gross mass limits; varying equipment and administrative requirements; and varying funding mechanisms for access.

The last point is particularly crucial. It is understood South Australia and New South Wales have not sought to reclaim the costs of conducting the necessary structural assessments directly from industry for participation in their higher axle mass limits trials.

In contrast, the Victorian Department of Transport seeks to directly charge applicants for the costs of those assessments as part of the application process.

HVIA believes that industry should not have to pay to conduct assessments of government-owned assets.

Additionally, HVIA is fearful that this approach will likely lead to the proliferation of a range of unique networks that are highly specific to each applicant.

However, the Victorian increased mass limits are not offered as a trial but are instead a permanent increase. This approach differs from the SA and NSW schemes, which are both short-term trials. Permanent increases offer far greater certainty in terms of access for the industry.

Nonetheless, these differences place industry in a difficult position, having to simultaneously manage complex requirements that differ across state borders.

HVIA has always advocated strongly for national consistency in a way that is fair and equitable to all parties, and the underlying reasons why are evident when reviewing the current state of the recent announcements.

Feedback from the Victorian Department is that any industry body wishing to engage with them to develop a suitable network should contact them via heavyvehicles@transport.vic.gov.au.

HVIA welcomes the opportunity to be part of any discussions and offer support to all members in that regard.

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