Freight Task Force and projects

Freight Task Force

The Australian Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics (BITRE) estimates that:

“over the four-and-a-half decades to 2016, road freight has increased eight-fold, from around 26 billion tonne kilometres in 1970–71 to around 203 billion tonne kilometres in 2015–16. More recently, freight growth has slowed across each of the three largest modes: road freight has grown by less 2 per cent per annum over the last six years, where prior to that growth had averaged over 3.5 per cent per annum. Road freight volumes are projected to grow by around 56 per cent between 2018 and 2040 (average annual growth of 2.0 per cent per annum)."

Multimodal Australian aggregate freight forecasts – 2019 update (BITRE,  November 2019)

The significance of freight to Australia’s national economy has been further recognised in the National Freight and Supply Chain strategy and its associated action plan released in August 2019 which “sets an agenda for coordinated and well-planned government and industry action across all freight modes over the next 20 years and beyond. It sets a national vision for freight systems and supply chains to contribute to a strong and prosperous Australia.”

In New Zealand, as outlined in the National Freight Demand Study 17/18, 93 per cent of the total tonnes moved is via road. The road freight task has grown by 16% between 2012 and 2018 and is expected to grow substantially over the next 30 years. The New Zealand Ministry of Transport is currently developing its strategic approach with a focus on reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of the road freight through its Green Freight project.

In addition to the forecasted growth of the road freight task and its importance to the Australian and New Zealand economies, research and collaboration between the Austroads member agencies is critical to assist with:

  • changes to the Federal/State funding arrangements for road and rail infrastructure development and maintenance
  • the recognised need for better integration of the road and other transport modes
  • changes to international standards for freight movement (e.g. container sizes) and heavy vehicle standards and manufacture
  • the Australia-wide introduction of road transport ‘Chain of Responsibility’ legislation
  • the emergence of new technology and data solutions with potential supply chain optimisation, compliance and enforcement applications,
  • the increasing community expectations and demands regarding heavy vehicle safety, traffic congestion, and environmental/community amenity
  • national security concerns related to the movement of freight.

The Austroads Freight Task Force, established in 2007, has representatives from all Austroads member agencies: Australian state and territory road and transport agencies, the Australian Commonwealth Department of Infrastructure, Transport Cities and Regional Development (DITCRD), the Australian Local Government Association, and the New Zealand Transport Agency. The National Transport Commission (NTC), the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR), and Transport Certification Australia (TCA) are also involved in the Freight Task Force for coordination with their own initiatives and operations and for input into the Austroads Freight program where relevant.

The Freight Task Force assists road and transport agencies in their efforts to address the future freight task and aims to improve road freight operations and the integration with other transport modes. As such, the role of the Freight task force is to:

  • develop and manage the Austroads road freight research program in line with the Austroads strategic plan
  • provide a forum for the exchange of information on addressing the freight task between Austroads member and related organisations
  • promote national consistency and knowledge sharing between the Austroads member agencies
  • oversee the dissemination of the results of projects and research to agencies and related organisations
  • liaise with other Austroads task forces / review panels on cross program issues.

The Freight Task Force also leads research that informs policy and operational decisions led by the NTC and NHVR.

In developing projects and research, the Freight Task Force focuses on key areas such as:

  • environmental sustainability and cultural heritage
  • community consultation and engagement
  • customer service
  • funding and financing options
  • improving data integrity and availability
  • integration between roads and other transport modes.

The Freight Task Force consults with industry on specific projects and through a Freight Industry Consultative Group meeting held around February each year. The meeting provides industry with updates on Austroads research and an opportunity to provide input into the planning of the future Austroads road freight research program.

Current Freight Task Force Projects

Project NumberProject NameProgramSub-programStatus
NEF6133Investigation and development of bridge formulae for inclusion in the performance-based standards network classification guidelinesNetworkFreight Task ForceActive
NEF6184Options for managing the impacts of aged heavy vehiclesNetworkFreight Task ForceActive
NEF6209Decision making framework and tools for road freight access decisionsNetworkFreight Task ForceActive
NEF6210Best practice approaches to road freight and communitiesNetworkFreight Task ForceActive
NEF6237Investigation of pavement assessment methodologies for PBS accessNetworkFreight Task ForceActive


The Freight Task Force is part of the Austroads Network Program.

Program Manager: Richard Delplace

Program Coordinator: Judi Jarvis
Austroads | Level 9, 287 Elizabeth Street | Sydney NSW 2000
Phone: +61 2 8265 3334