National Land Freight Strategy - Infrastructure Australia

National Land Freight Strategy - Infrastructure Australia

4. Constraints and challenges

The principal constraints on a more efficient freight sector are:

• restricted use of infrastructure

• encroachment of freight activities

• uncertainty about capacity for growth

• lack of responsiveness of infrastructure to economic demand.

A number of trends are likely to make these constraints more binding on freight in the future.

Restricted use of infrastructure

Restrictions on the use of infrastructure can include limits to vehicle sizes and operating

hours, and requirements for different vehicle configurations and documentation when

crossing jurisdictional borders.

Substantial freight productivity gains were made from the widespread introduction of B double

trucks. However, the potential for further gains from these vehicles on main routes is limited,

and the impact of past reforms may diminish, resulting in slower productivity growth in the

future. 18 Potential productivity gains from a next generation of trucks, high productivity

vehicles, have been described as a ‘quantum leap’, however, their use is restricted. 19

In some cases, the truck size permitted on a highway is not permitted to the freight precinct.

Consequently either the freight needs to be double handled, or inefficient vehicle sizes are

used on highways. The result is an increase in freight operating costs, excess energy

consumption and emissions, and more freight traffic and a loss of potential productivity. This

is referred to as the ‘first and last mile’ issue - the inability to drive a truck the full length of the

freight journey. Last mile issues could be seen as a by-product of increases in vehicle sizes

on major routes, or as a result of a mismatch between land uses and transport planning. It is

an interoperability issue that can lead to supply chain disconnects.

The National Transport Commission has observed that the community needs to be assured

that potentially larger vehicles deliver better road safety outcomes than the current fleet.

Achieving better outcomes should involve a balance of improved driver behaviour, improved

safety features of heavy vehicles and improvements in the road network and its operation 20 ,

as well as creation of a transport marketplace involving cost reflectivity.

Other examples of restrictions arise in relation to rail. In some cases it is uncertain what

urban rail capacity can be made available to freight because the systems and methods of

calculating and allocating efficient capacity are unclear or may be overly cautious.


David Mitchell, Heavy vehicle productivity trends and road freight regulation in Australia.


Kim Hassall, Bi-modal terminals – shrinking urban freight exposure through a quantum leap in freight productivity.


National Tranpsort Commission, National Transport Policy Framework Vol 2.


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