Alphanumeric route numbering in NSW

A couple of months ago I noticed new A2 route markers at various points on Old Windsor Road (and M2 markers on some of the signs on the Hills Motorway), replacing the hexagonal Metroad 2 markers.

A2 route marker
A2 route marker at the intersection of Norwest Blvd and Old Windsor Rd

The new alphanumeric numbering system replaces the existing mixture of Metroad, State and National route markers in NSW. It’s based on the British system where the letter denotes the road category and the number designates the route. Interestingly, this means that both the Sydney–Newcastle “F3” Freeway and Southern “F6” Freeway will be designated M1.

Metroad 2 transition to M2 and A2

The Westlink Motorway was the first major length of road in NSW to use the new system when it opened in 2005, being signposted with M7 alphanumeric markers, but the rest of Metroad 7 retains the previous designation for now.

M7 route marker
M7 route marker on Norwest Blvd (note the Metroad 2 marker in the background)

According to Ozroads, the transition to alphanumeric route numbering in NSW has been underway since 2004 – particularly in rural areas – with other states (except WA) mostly in more advanced stages of transition. I think that the new road numbering system is great because it provides more road information to drivers, while reducing potential confusion through rationalisation and national standardisation of route markers.

Update (May 2014): Statewide implementation of alphanumeric route numbers was completed during 2013 (along with further rationalisation and renumbering of routes). To avoid potential confusion with M1, the Sydney–Newcastle Freeway and Southern Freeway were renamed Pacific Motorway and Princes Motorway respectively.

7 thoughts on “Alphanumeric route numbering in NSW

  1. I’m still confuse…luckily I don’t usually read those numbers in Aus…I mean, M7 – which way do I take to Rooty Hill: Newcastle or Canberra? Neither is the direction to West really…

  2. If anyone would like to take some more pictures of Alphas, there was one I haven’t noticed before eastbound on the Illawarra Highway – a distance sign, just past the Illawarra/Hume Highways junction. There was also an A39 (Newell Highway) double chevron sign, about 20 kilometres north of Narrandera – sorry was in a middle-of-nowhere destination and I can’t take pics while I’m driving.

  3. I really wish the NSW Government would stop mucking around with route numbers… changing them, or worse yet, making them disappear, only leads to confusion. The Metroad system was supposed to be a route numbering revolution, but the fact that they’re being replaced by yet another new system only 15 years later shows that it was a flop. I prefer to follow numbered routes myself, but most Sydneysiders don’t; changing the system yet again isn’t going to change that. If the new alphanumeric system makes the disappeared routes (11, 21, 22, 27, 36, 50, 61, 63, 67, 70, and 76, just to name a few) come back in some recognisable form (after all, they’re all still shown in street directories) and remain constant, I’m all for it. Otherwise, leave them alone!

  4. why can’t nsw take the lead of victoria and queensland and get its act together and have a statewide alphanumeric system rather than a muddled system of Alphanumeric and SR Numeral Route roads make up ur mind Macquarie Street

  5. The Alfanumeric sign Vincent saw was probably the one at Sutton Forest on the A48(Illawarra Highway), which unfortunately the RTA has now coverplated with the old 48 shield, which is very frustrating. There is an Alfanumeric A48 distance sign Westbound on the Illawarra Highway about 10 kms west of Robertson which as far as I know still reads A48. It appears that all of the green directional signs have been replaced with new ones around this whole area and also in Wollongong on the motorway there (A1 or M1?) but every sign has been coverplated with the old shields. What a revolting development – wouldn’t it have been more logical (and money-saving) just to have introduced the system by leaving the new alfanumerics uncovered? That way people would adjust to it slowly, too – I already refer to the Illawarra Highway as the A48 and the Pacific/Princes Highway as the A1. People I spoke to at Gloucester up North have got used to the Pacific Highway as the A1, also. What we need is a petition or a pressure group or something to kick the RTA’s butt, a truck-driving frend of mine who drives twice weekly to Melbourne thinks that the alfanumerics there are great, and I found it easy to navigate Britain in 1983 as they’ve always had alfanumeric road routes there. I’d love to read more feedback about this issue.

  6. Further research by myself has located up to 100 fotos of alphanumeric signage across NSW. Chances are that a lot of these signs have since been coverplated, but interested persons can log into Google and type in “ozroads NSW alphanumeric route markers” and when the contents page comes up klik on the entry headed “Ozroads: NSW’s Alpha-numeric route numbering”. Scroll down to find the extensive foto gallery, klik on a foto to expand to view it then klik on “go back” to return to the gallery.

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