Sydney bound PBS 30m vehicles from Melbourne get approval boost

Operators of complying PBS reference vehicles no longer need a permit to operate up to 85 tonnes in NSW and Victoria.

NSW PBS Network maps released this week by Transport for NSW follow the release of the updated PBS National Class 2 Performance-Based Standards (High Productivity) Authorisation Notice 2022 (No.1) by the NHVR last Friday.

According to the maps, PBS combinations that include 20m Quad-Axle Semi-Trailer (50.5 GCM), 30m Quad-Tri B-Double (73 GCM), 30m Quad quad B-double (77.5 tonnes) and 30m A-double tandem dolly (85 tonnes) have been granted access after NSW chose to adopt the Victorian 30 m A-double reference envelopes.

A PBS A-double network, as a result, now connects Australia’s two largest cities.

The NSW Level 2B network connects with Eastern Victoria along with the Princes, Monaro, and Hume Highways.

Although the 85 tonne restriction is short of the 85.5 tonnes available in Victoria, it is likely to prove more pragmatic and practical considering the complex bridge restrictions imposed in Victoria according to a statement issued by Tiger Spider.

The commercial vehicle engineering specialist suggested the most significant bridge restriction in NSW, according to the released map, is the northbound route over Sheahan Bridge in Gundagai where heavy vehicles must only use the left lane and follow no closer than 60 metres from a heavy vehicle in front.

“It is pleasing to see that NSW are prepared to put flexible and practical operating conditions to manage risk, rather than cutting off a critical part of the network,” said Marcus Coleman, Tiger Spider Managing Director.

As the NSW network also extends to Canberra and along the coast all the way from Nowra to Coolangatta, Coleman said it provided a significant increase in the measured roadway available to PBS A-doubles in Eastern Australia at a useful weight increase over 26 m B-doubles.

“Whilst it is great for A-doubles it should also encourage more Quad-Quad and Quad-Tri Super B-doubles since the Network and dimension restrictions appear less restrictive than in Victoria,” he said.

“The 50.5 tonne quad-semi now gets a significant network upgrade and certainty of access with less restrictive axle spacing requirements than Victoria,” said Coleman.

The minimum axle spacing, however, might be viewed as too large to attract all commodities. Coleman believes it could benefit from a quad-semi-trailer configuration.

“Hopefully, we can move away from naming vehicle types and just adopt reference axle spacings, he said, questioning whether it was time to implement a new bridge formula in Victoria.

Coleman believes this could open the way for B-Triples and other, more innovative combinations.

“Nevertheless, there is a lot on offer with this network,” he said.

“It will take some time to fully digest the implications of what it means and how it will impact fleet purchases. But the network delivers certainty for operators and a glimpse at what a national PBS Network will look like.”

Newly released NSW PBS network map.
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