AusRAIL, Market Sectors

Productivity Commission endorses flexible truck design reform

<p>The Productivity Commission has endorsed the use of performance-based standards (PBS) to replace &#8220prescriptive regulations&#8221, while encouraging the adoption of innovative and more productive truck design.</p> <p>In a report to the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) on the potential benefits of the national reform agenda, the commission found productivity and efficiency reforms in the transport, energy and infrastructure sectors could inflate gross domestic product (GDP) by 2% to $17 bn.</p> <p>Based on a 5% productivity gain, the commission estimated potential cost savings in transport of $2 bn.</p> <p>In line with the National Transport Commission’s Twice The Task report, and COAG, the report found the introduction of PBS &#8211 for innovative truck design and potentially higher mass limited trucks &#8211 would go some way to increasing transport productivity.</p> <p>Compared to the traditional semi-trailer, a super b-double (or a high efficiency container transporter) servicing a container terminal or port could halve truck trips and cut kilometres travelled by 25%, NTC chief executive Nick Dimopoulos said.</p> <p>&#8220PBS is not an easy reform for governments to embrace,&#8221 he said.</p> <p>&#8220It will take a strong commitment and collective leadership, underpinned by a shift in our cultural and attitudinal thinking.</p> <p>&#8220Instead of regulating what the vehicle looks like &#8211 a concept we’re familiar with, let’s focus on what the vehicles can do. Rather than protecting pavements, we should be looking for pricing solutions to pay for the increased damage.&#8221</p> <p>The report recommended better decision-making frameworks for infrastructure funding, through more comprehensive consultation processes with stakeholders and the public.</p> <p>On rail, the report called for nationally consistent and coordinated rail regulatory frameworks (ie safety, operational and technical standards) &#8212 including the possibility of moving to a single national regulatory regime and regulator.</p> <p>The commission also called for stricter application of the corporatisation model to government-owned railways, including greater clarity of corporate objectives, improved transparency and a general strengthening of accountability.</p> <p>According to Mr Dimopoulos, the potential for a freight crisis in the short term has been deferred &#8211 by addressing the quick-fixes.</p> <p>&#8220The easy reforms have been done,&#8221 he said. </p> <p>&#8220But so far we’ve only picked the low hanging fruit. The easy reforms have been done. </p> <p>&#8220Mass limit reviews over the years have delivered diminishing benefits as we get closer and closer to the capacity limits of our roads and bridges. </p> <p>&#8220So how are we going to manage the predicted doubling of the freight task? There are no easy answers.&#8221</p> <p>An additional 50,000 trucks would be needed on Australian roads by 2020 &#8211 with articulated trucks making-up over half the increase &#8211 to cope with the doubling of the road and rail transport task, from 268 to 523 billion tonne kilometres, Mr Dimopoulos said. </p> <br />