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Heavy Vehicle Road Reform

The ultimate goal of heavy vehicle road reform is to turn the provision of heavy vehicle road infrastructure into an economic service where feasible. This would see a market established that links heavy vehicle user needs with the level of service they receive, the charges they pay and the investment of those charges back into heavy vehicle road services.

While more direct user charging is needed to fully close the link between the needs of users and the charges they pay, there is much that can be done to improve these linkages within the current heavy vehicle charging framework (PAYGO). These ‘supply side’ reforms to the way governments plan, govern and invest in roads are the focus of the first three phases of the reform road map agreed by the Transport and Infrastructure Council in May 2015.

Economic analysis indicates that supply side improvements provide the majority of the benefits of implementing more direct heavy vehicle user charges (estimated to be between $22bn and $8bn in net present value, depending on the system). More details about the reform are outlined in the brochure below.

Phase one—improve transparency around expenditure, investment and service delivery

The first phase of the reform is aimed at improving transparency around road expenditure, investment and service delivery. Fundamentally, properly functioning markets require informed users and road providers. The measures outlined below, aim to establish a baseline of information that would be required to transition to the provision of heavy vehicle infrastructure as an economic service over the longer term:

Substantial progress has been made on phase one of the reform, with the publication of the first editions of the asset registers and expenditure plans covering roads on the key freight routes and a framework for operators to negotiate and pay for improved access (particularly for local roads).  These asset registers and expenditure plans will be updated on an annual basis and will continue to be refined and improved over time. They will be progressively extended beyond the key freight routes over the next two years.

Road expenditure and investment plans

The first edition of the road expenditure and investment plans provides detailed information on the expenditure and investments governments plan to make over the next four years to ensure the key freight routes that connect Australia's most significant places for freight meet the needs of users.  The plans are provided for each state and territory. While every effort has been made to provide accurate and up to date information, it should be noted that variations exist in the methodologies employed by states and territories to record and account for planned road expenditure.  As such, caution should be exercised in comparing data between jurisdictions.  Governments are working together to harmonise road expenditure and asset reporting data across jurisdictions and the outcomes of this work will inform future refinements of road expenditure and investment plans.

Asset registers and heavy vehicle infrastructure ratings

The first edition of the asset registers and heavy vehicle infrastructure ratings provide information on the service provided to heavy vehicle operators on the key freight routes that connect Australia's most significant places for freight.

The information is provided in both data tables and interactive map files (.kml), which can be opened in Google Earth or a similar online mapping application. Governments are currently working to migrate the data to the National Key Freight Routes Map.

Roads on the key freight routes were categorised according to their function and, based on earlier research, each road category was assessed to determine an expected rating related to heavy vehicle access, safety characteristics and ride quality. Each 100m section of road on the key freight routes was assessed against these criteria to determine whether or not they exceeded, met or fell short of this expected rating. Ratings above the expected level for a particular road type are coloured blue, those within the expected range are coloured green while those with a rating below the expected range are coloured red. Roads without a data overlay appear yellow. The guide below provides more detail on how roads were categorised and how the ratings were developed.  Map and data files are provided for each jurisdiction. While every effort has been made to provide accurate and up to date information, it should be noted that variations exist in the methodologies employed by states and territories to collect and report road asset data. As such, caution should be exercised in comparing data between jurisdictions.  Governments are working together to harmonise road expenditure and asset reporting data across jurisdictions and the outcomes of this work will inform future refinements of the asset registers and heavy vehicle infrastructure ratings.

Asset registers and infrastructure ratings—map files

Asset registers and infrastructure ratings—spreadsheets/data files

Practical ways for industry to pay for improved access

In November 2015, the Transport and Infrastructure Council agreed that the Austroads Framework for Guiding Private Sector Participation be adopted by road managers. The framework aims to provide more certainty of process for all parties in negotiations on paying for improved high productivity vehicle access on public roads.

The framework provides a generic guide for private investment in public road infrastructure to improve heavy vehicle access and was developed to guide interactions between road owners (including local councils) and the heavy vehicle industry.

The framework is intended to be used for one-off, smaller-scale, high productivity vehicle access enhancements, including first/last mile, farm gate access and pinch points (e.g. bridges). The framework ensures that heavy vehicle operators consider the benefits that they expect to receive from smaller-scale road enhancements in light of the costs to road owners of such enhancements.

Next steps

Through the officials group supporting the Transport and Infrastructure Council, governments will continue to refine and improve the asset registers and expenditure plans. In early 2016, industry workshops will be held to get feedback on the first editions of the asset registers and expenditure plans to inform the development of subsequent editions.

In November 2015, in response to the Harper Competition Policy Review, the Australian Government stated it would seek to work with states and territories to accelerate heavy vehicle road reform, including identifying potential steps to transition to independent price regulation for heavy vehicle charges by 2017-18. The Australian Government also agreed to investigate the high level costs, benefits and potential next steps of options to introduce cost reflective pricing for all vehicles.

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Last Updated: 29 August, 2016