THE EVOLUTION OF HIGH PRODUCTIVITY VEHICLES IN AUSTRALIA AND THEIR BENEFITS
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Although the Australian road freight transport industry has seen three mass limits reviews in the mid 1970s, the mid 1980s and in the late 1990s, (Hassall, 2005), there were two very significant truck configuration changes that happened in the mid 1980s and then again in the early 2000s. The first was the trials of a variant of the Canadian B-train (the B-Double) which was introduced into Australia in the mid 1980s. This ‘Australian’ B-Double could achieve payloads some 30% to 40% higher than the conventional ‘semi trailer’ articulated combination. By 2016 some 18,900 of these vehicles were operational in Australia. The second adoption of new vehicle configurations started in 1999 through the National Road Transport Commission (NRTC), who adopted, and further developed, another Canadian concept, that of “Performance Based Standards” (PBS). This effectively allowed for new, flexible truck designs, as long as the vehicles performed against a set of 17 specific technical engineering performance criteria. This Performance Based Standards approach, since 1998, also allowed even larger configurations to B-Doubles to be used by operators. The benefits of these new configurations have already delivered billions of dollars in kilometre savings to the road freight industry and to its customers, as well as very significant safety benefits to the community.
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