‘Productivity’ central to new NTC work program

Photography by: Brad Gardner

Two year effort aims to ensure transport operators can get goods to market faster and more cheaply

‘Productivity’ central to new NTC work program
Paul Retter: NTC will seek feedback from operators on laws


The Council of Transport and Infrastructure Ministers (COTIM) has confirmed transport network productivity will be the National Transport Commission’s (NTC) immediate primary focus.

The direction surfaces following COTIM approval on May 23 of the NTC’s new 2014-15 to 2016-17 work program, which will examine ways to improve the performance of Australia’s heavy vehicle, rail and intermodal transport systems.

"Opportunities have been identified to increase supply chain productivity through the wider use of higher productivity vehicles, improving access, and reducing unnecessary regulation," NTC chairman David Anderson says in his foreword to the work program.

"Leveraging the efficiency and safety benefits that constantly evolving technologies can bring to transport is also important.

"Improving safety outcomes is a key transport challenge.

"There is still work to be done to ensure we have accurate data to monitor trends and continue the journey towards best practice regulation in order to ensure our transport system is as safe as possible."

The NTC, which has released a number of freight-related reports this month, has already finished analysis and started work on several programs.

"You can’t have a more productive economy without more productive transport systems," NTC CEO Paul Retter says.

"This new work program will look at new ways to ensure transport operators can get goods to market more quickly and at a better price.

"Ultimately more efficient freight means lower prices for consumers and helps businesses create more jobs."

The NTC will investigate the feasibility of allowing 6- and 7-axle truck trailer combinations at Performance Based Standards (PBS) mass limits without having to apply for PBS."

Under the PBS scheme, 6 and 7-axle truck-trailer combinations can operate with up to 20 per cent higher payloads than their non-PBS equivalents.

"Over the past 18 months, PBS applications and vehicle approval numbers for this combination have doubled," Retter adds.

"The benefits of this combination have been proven through the PBS scheme and making them more accessible would allow for more operators to take advantage of these benefits, if it proves feasible."

His organisation will also seek first-hand feedback on the performance of laws and regulations such as the Heavy Vehicle National Law and Rail Safety National Law.

 "More than ever before we are tapping into the ‘on the ground’ experience of transport operators to make sure these projects identify the current concerns of industry and deliver sensible regulatory solutions that will give our transport networks a timely boost without diminishing safety outcomes," Retter says.

The new NTC work program also identifies some longer-term reform directions identified in consultation with governments and industry, including:

exploring how Australia can best prepare for the introduction of autonomous road and rail vehicles

collecting better data about freight and passenger movements to inform future planning, investment and access decisions by governments

exploring how to collect better data about the impact of heavy vehicle driver fatigue and to better understand the costs of complying with regulation for the land transport industry.


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