Roads rule in Victorian budget

The Victorian State Government’s budget contains little new in the way for rail freight, with most of the $1.8 billion transport spending going on road and public transport projects.

The Brumby Labor Government will provide Victoria’s freight network with $239.8 million. Roads and Ports Minister Tim Pallas and Public Transport Minister Lynne Kosky said the government’s response to the Rail Freight Network Review formed the cornerstone of this year’s freight investment package.

Ms Kosky said the results of the Rail Freight Network Review, led by the Hon Tim Fischer, AC, outlined a range of options to develop a sustainable rail freight network in Victoria.

“To meet the growing needs of farmers and customers, our immediate response to this report is to set some priorities for grain lines, based on Mr Fischer’s recommendations,” Ms Kosky said.

Victoria’s major rail freight lines will be improved through a $42.7 million package. As part of the funding announced in the Future Farming Statement, $23.7 million will be invested in the first stage of Gold Lines upgrades as recommended in Mr Fischer’s Rail Freight Network Review, and a further $19 million was allocated for general upgrades.

In addition, a further $13.3 million will be spent on maintenance works on the rail freight lines which are vital to developing a sustainable rail freight network.

Other key freight projects funded by in the 2008-09 State Budget were:

– $12.4 million for the Geelong Rail Access improvement program for standard-gauge rail connection into the northern part of the Port of Geelong;

– $21.4 million for the Rail Freight Support package to ensure the agriculture industry can continue to access rail freight options; and

– $150 million, announced last year, to the Channel Deepening Project.

In contrast, $794.1 million into the public transport network (some of this being spent on rail freight and port projects) and $769.7 million for building roads.

“Public transport patronage has grown by almost 20 per cent over the last two years and the metropolitan rail network is carrying the highest number of passengers in the State’s history – more than 189.4 million trips a year,” Ms Kosky said.

“Population growth has outstripped previous forecasts and is placing pressure on our transport system. The Brumby Labor Government is taking action now to deliver better public transport infrastructure and services for our booming population.”

Around $68.4 million will be invested to upgrade and maintain key grain freight lines.

“Planning for the longer term is also a priority, with $10.4 million to start design of the rail

extension to South Morang,” Ms Kosky said.

The government is injecting $769.7 million to build new roads, improve the safety of the road network and reduce congestion.

Roads and Ports Minister, Tim Pallas said roads were key to Victoria’s economic and social development – ensuring efficient freight movement, creating jobs and enhancing the liveability of our towns and suburbs.

The 2008-09 State Budget roads and congestion package includes:

– $363 million for the Monash-CityLink-West Gate Upgrade;

– $224 million to upgrade rural and regional roads;

– $85.3 million for outer metropolitan road improvements;

– $46.6 million for road based congestion measures;

– $27.3 million in additional road maintenance funding;

– $16 million to improve response times and service performance at VicRoads customer service centres; and

– $7.5 million for the tender process to build a new licensing and registration system for VicRoads.

Some of the projects funded under the $224 million rural and road package include:

– $110 million towards the duplication of the Princes Hwy West from Waurn Ponds to Winchelsea to cater for increased car and truck travel, and improve travel time and reliability;

– $40 million to build a new duplicated section of the Western Hwy from Melton to Bacchus Marsh to improve safety and travel times;

– $9 million towards the Yarra Glen Truck Bypass – a $15 million project with a $5.5 million contribution from the Federal Government and $500,000 from the Yarra Ranges Shire Council.

Mr Pallas said the rural road projects were listed for funding under the Auslink 2 Program and the Brumby Labor Government would work with the Rudd Government to deliver these projects.

The $85.3 million outer metropolitan road improvements include:

– $36.8 million to upgrade the intersection of Pound Rd, South Gippsland Hwy and South Gippsland Fwy, Dandenong, to improve safety and cater for population and freight growth;

– $48.5 million to duplicate Kororoit Creek Rd from Grieve Pde to Millers Rd at Hobson Bay, including a grade separation of the railway crossing and an on-road bicycle lane.


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