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Delivering a safer and more efficient freight system

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Our focus is on making New Zealand’s freight system safer and more efficient. Improving safety while reducing the cost of doing business will make New Zealand a better place to live and work. Reducing the cost of moving freight will help improve the competitiveness of our exports, reduce the costs of the goods we buy, and grow our economy.

altAlong with the challenge of improving the freight system we also need to ensure it can handle New Zealand’s growing freight task. The amount of freight moved is growing.  Over the last few years, for example, the volume of imports and exports moving to and from our sea ports has jumped from 42 million tonnes in 2008/09 to 55 million tonnes in 2012/13. All of these goods, at some point, needed to be moved by road, rail or coastal shipping.

The Transport Agency has a number of initiatives underway to improve the efficiency of our freight system. Over the coming year we will be working with stakeholders to complete our freight accords for the Upper North Island, Central New Zealand and South Island. These will set out a shared view, across industry and government, about the main challenges and opportunities we are facing along with possible solutions.

We also have a number of initiatives underway to improve the safety of freight movements, such as the development of the Operator Rating System and our work on safe speeds. 

Our new freight priority to get more freight moved with fewer truck trips can be achieved in part through the uptake of high productivity motor vehicles (HPMVs). For the next three years we are focusing on the uptake of HPMVs because our analysis, together with feedback from the freight plan work, has shown that  using these vehicles will provide significant long-term safety and productivity benefits. Our analysis and what we have heard from industry also has shown that this lift in performance can be achieved relatively quickly and with modest investment in infrastructure and new vehicles, relative to the benefits.  We know that the potential freight productivity gains of HPMVs would see a 20 percent decrease in truck trips using over-mass permits, 14 percent decrease in trips for over-dimensioned permits and around 10 percent for 50MAX combinations.

This means HPMVs will undertake 10-20 percent less travel to move the same amount of freight as standard trucks.  This reduction in travel offers significant commercial benefits, like reduced vehicle operating costs, driver hours and fuel.

There are also significant safety benefits - from the reduced crash risk that fewer truck trips provide to bringing newer, safer truck combinations onto our roads. These trucks also tend to be quieter than the trucks they are replacing and reduce carbon emissions for each tonne of freight moved.

Moving more freight with fewer trucks will benefit us all – road transport operators, other road users, rate-payers, communities, consumers and our exporters.

What our work over the last few years has shown us is that we can make real progress in reaching our goals if we talk and listen to each other about what we can do to more efficiently and safely move freight around New Zealand and to the world.  

Harry Wilson
NZ Transport Agency
Freight Portfolio Director

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