In a move that has posed more questions than it answered, the NSW Government has taken a bold move to announce a weight concession for certain electric vehicles on its State’s roads, apparently going it alone in announcing extra axle weight limits on electric powered heavy trucks with the prime mover weighing up to 26 tonnes.
In the announcement yesterday Transport for NSW said that it was supporting the industry to transition to zero emission vehicles, by enabling access to the NSW state road network, with some exceptions, including load limited bridges, to cater for the additional mass required for zero emission heavy vehicles.
Transport for NSW said the increased axle mass limits will be introduced as a two year trial and will provide access for zero emission vehicles with up to 8 tonnes on a single steer axle and up to 18.5 tonnes on the drive axle, where the overall GVM of the prime mover does not exceed 26 tonnes.
The Government said that the trial will ‘enable broad access to support transition and provide the evidence-base to inform ongoing access and management of the network’.
It went on to say that at this stage, access is not available to assets owned or maintained by third party or local road managers, which is presumed to mean on toll roads etc.
It says it will be working with its third party asset owners and partners to progressively increase access and will keep operators informed with updates to access for these vehicles.
What the new rule doesn’t specify is what operators might expect after the two year trial is concluded and if the new rules are not carried through to a more permanent status post trial, what might happen the trucks, particularly if no other states or the Federal government make the added weight allowance legal.
The other question the new trial poses is fact that it is confined to a single state and would preclude heavier electric trucks from crossing state borders and running outside NSW, nor how this fits with he NHVR’s National heavy vehicle registration system.
Many industry pundits and several manufacturers believe that the added weight limits should have been a part of last week’s Federal government announcement of new truck width rules, that were introduced to ensure new tech trucks from Europe in particular, would be able to be able to be introduced into Australia without large added cost or regulations.
Transport for NSW told T&B News that it will work with the NHVR to establish access via a Notice as soon as possible, however in the interim, access will be via permit.
NSW says that heavy vehicle operators can lodge a permit application for access via the NHVR Portal and NHVR will seek consent from relevant road managers.
“We know other jurisdictions are also introducing or considering access for zero emission heavy vehicles and we will continue to work with other states and territories to align access arrangements wherever possible,” Transport for NSW assistant executive director for freight Scott Greenow said:
“This new policy reflects the freight sector’s challenging commercial and regulatory operating environment and the need for a staged approach to transition to net zero,” he added.
“A key part of this new policy is a commitment from Government to partner with industry to support the transition to low and zero emission technologies and ensure our transport network is ready, as technology and solutions continue to evolve,” Greenow added.
Alongside the new policy, the NSW Government has also launched a Heavy Vehicle Comparison Tool to provide industry with comparative information on diesel and low and zero emission vehicles and a database of available low and zero emission technologies.
A spokesperson for Transport and Main Roads Queensland told T&B News that it has already provided access via permit to zero emission heavy vehicles that exceed general mass limits since May this year.
“TMR is currently engaged in a number of trials with industry as we move to adopt zero emission heavy vehicles in Queensland to support the attainment of our decarbonisation targets,” the spokesperson said.
“Harmonisation of access across borders is a key issue for both industry and jurisdictions,” they added..
“TMR will continue to seek opportunities to align access and conditions with a view to reaching a common national approach, where structural, pavement and network capacity allows,” they concluded.