Hume Freeway Access for High Productivity Freight Vehicles

When was the last time you did a road trip between Melbourne and Sydney? If you work in the heavy vehicle industry, I’m sure for some the experience is relatively common.

Mine was in early 2013 as part of a project with VicRoads, Roads and Maritime Services and Transport for New South Wales to investigate the feasibility of opening Hume Freeway access to High Productivity Freight Vehicles (HPFV); essentially anything longer and heavier than a conventional 26-metre 68.5-tonne B-Double. Back then, as Senior Policy Advisor for VicRoads, I was the project manager for Victorian inputs to the feasibility study and business case for granting HPFV access on the Hume Freeway. The timing of the project was to coincide with the completion of the Holbrook bypass (opened August 2013), as the last town to be bypassed on the Hume Freeway.

The result was a report that identified the infrastructure limitations and any investment required to improve infrastructure for longer and heavier HPFV access. The report also investigated options for infrastructure improvement cost to be recovered via a more sophisticated method than the existing PAYGO heavy vehicle charges framework. Due to differing motivations in Victoria and NSW, VicRoads took the initiative to secure funding for strengthening mass limited bridges and continued a program of improving rest areas to accommodate the longer combinations.

Five years on access to the Hume Freeway in Victoria is now open to 30-metre 85.5-tonne A-Doubles and 30-metre 77.5-tonne Quad-Quad B-Doubles and there are plans to expand access to 36.5-metre 85.5 tonne A-Doubles. With an eye on potential future HPFV combinations, Victorian Hume Freeway bridges have also been assessed for providing access to 91-tonne B-Triples and 113-tonne AB-Triples.

Sadly, the same can’t be said about the NSW section. Recent experience has shown NSW is still reluctant to provide access to even ‘cubic’ (i.e. operating up to 68.5-tonne) 30-metre A-Doubles or B-Doubles, suggesting there are still the same rest area and bridge limitations that existed in 2013.
With the safety, productivity and environmental benefits of providing HPFV access to Australia’s major highways, and particularly between Eastern capital cities well documented, it is nothing short of disappointing that NSW is holding back on these benefits being realised on the Hume Freeway.

If you’d like to discuss this or any other access queries please contact Advantia.