Victoria gets serious with $1.1b for freight

Upgrades to Victoria’s freight network totalling $1.1 billion were announced yesterday as part of a $38b integrated transport plan by the Minister for Public Transport, Lynne Kosky, and the Minister for Roads and Ports, Tim Pallas, while NSW premier Nathan Rees announced 75 new parking spaces.
Ms Kosky said a $180 million investment in the rail freight network, which would complete restoration of and maintain key Gold and Silver freight lines and rehabilitate selected bronze lines, would provide a significant economic boost to rural and regional industries.
“The government is taking action on transport, so that Victorians can have the best transport network in Australia,” Ms Kosky said.
 “Our $38 billion action plan will generate up to 10,000 jobs a year during construction, resulting in more than 100,000 jobs over the life of the plan.”
Ms Kosky said that since receiving the Rail Freight Network Review last December, the Brumby Government has committed funding to upgrade the Gold and Silver lines.
“This $180 million investment will allow us to go a step further and completely restore these lines to a standard that allows freight trains to run at speeds of at least 65 kilometres an hour,” Ms Kosky said.
“This investment also delivers funding for ongoing maintenance of these lines. This funding will also allow us to establish a network of intermodal freight terminals in key export locations around Victoria.”
Ms Kosky said the investment was further evidence of the Brumby Government’s commitment to supporting the long term future of the rail freight network.
“As Victoria’s population continues to grow, so too will our freight volumes and rail will need to take up an increasing share of the freight task,” she said.
“Ensuring our rail infrastructure is able to meet this challenge is a top priority for our Government. Our rail freight network helps take Victorian-made goods and produce to local, national and international markets.”
Ms Kosky said the investments were in addition to the almost $1 billion rail freight investment being made by the Victorian and Commonwealth governments.
The Minister for Roads and Ports, Tim Pallas, also outlined a range of freight initiatives contained in Freight Futures, the Brumby Government’s freight strategy also released today.
Mr Pallas said the Brumby Government would build a new interstate rail terminal at Donnybrook, costing $340 million.
He said the Donnybrook Freight Terminal would help shift unnecessary truck trips away from the Dynon area and inner suburbs. The decentralisation of freight movement will drive freight efficiency and amenity by reducing non port-related freight movements in Melbourne’s inner-west.
Mr Pallas said a $260 million Port of Melbourne International Freight Terminal would be part of a network of metropolitan freight terminals, which will encourage more efficient freight movements within Melbourne by rail and road.
The new terminal, adjacent to the Port of Melbourne will enhance the Port’s landslide capacity and encourage rail freight.
Mr Pallas also announced the Victorian and South Australian governments would seek $340 million in Commonwealth Government funding to cement the Green Triangle region’s position as one of Australia’s premier export locations.
Among the top priorities is the re-opening and standardising of key rail freight lines in Victoria and South Australia, in particular the Heywood to Penola line and upgrading roads and creating access for High Productivity Freight Vehicles (HPFV) on key routes, including to the Port of Portland.
Mr Pallas said the Brumby Government would start a $20 million program of preliminary planning for the future of the Port of Hastings, for it to be Victoria’s supplementary general cargo and container port when Melbourne reaches capacity.
“Expansion at the Port of Hastings is still a longer-term prospect, but it is important for detailed planning and environmental studies to begin,” he said.
The freight investment plan was part of a $38b integrated transport program announced by the Victorian Government, partly in response to the Eddington Report.
In contrast, NSW Premier Nathan Rees has announced 75 new parking spaces at Helensvale Railway Station, according to NRMA president Alan Evans.

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