Government backs Port of Melbourne rail shuttle

The Australian and Victorian Governments have announced that they will back several projects aimed at taking trucks off local roads and connecting major Victorian freight hubs with the Port of Melbourne, using the existing rail network.
The Governments will soon seek expressions of interest to deliver a series of rail freight ‘shuttle’ initiatives on the existing rail network by connecting the port to major freight hubs and businesses.
Federal Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Darren Chester said the proposal would take advantage of rail’s ability to shift larger volumes of freight than trucks, while also busting congestion in Victoria’s capital.
“The Australian Government’s free trade agreements are seeing a boom in exports, which has led to trucks taking more produce and freight to the ports,” said Chester.
“This project will provide the ability to shift larger volumes of freight via rail compared to trucks, and reduce congestion on our roads.
“The freight and logistics industry had identified rail’s potential to reduce transport costs by about 10 per cent, with the proposal potentially improving Australia’s competitiveness, which is why the Australian Government is investing $8.4 billion in the Inland Rail project connecting Brisbane and Melbourne.”
Victorian Minister for Roads, Road Safety and Ports Luke Donnellan said the initiative will take trucks off local roads in Melbourne’s inner west.
“The Port of Melbourne will remain our primary freight hub for a generation. With container numbers expected to double over the next two decades we need to act now to share the load between road and rail,” Donnellan said.
“Alongside the West Gate Tunnel, 24-hour truck bans in the inner west and the Port’s rail access plans, this project will help shift containers from residential streets onto dedicated routes to the port.”
Michael Kilgariff, Managing Director, ALC, welcomed the Governments’ support of rail freight.
“Moving more freight to rail, where it makes sense commercially, has the potential to significantly improve freight efficiency, while at the same time improving urban amenity, reducing road congestion and decreasing queuing times at ports,” Kilgariff said.
“[The] ALC has been a consistent supporter of the Port Rail Shuttle project, which will be a significant enhancement to the Port of Melbourne, producing real benefits for freight efficiency in Victoria, and across the nation’s supply chains.
“In NSW, the state government is committed to doubling the amount of freight entering and leaving Port Botany by rail, which currently sits at 19.3 per cent. NSW Ports is likewise committed to moving 3 million TEU by rail over the longer term.
“There needs to be an equal focus on promoting greater use of short haul rail services for freight movement in Victoria.
“The Port Rail Shuttle will build on other significant investments being made in freight infrastructure – including the Inland Rail project, which will link the Port of Melbourne with the Port of Brisbane when fully completed.
“Constructing the Port Rail Shuttle to provide a rail connection between the Port of Melbourne and inland ports in Victoria is a crucially important aspect of improving the state’s freight network and driving greater supply chain efficiency and safety.”
 

ALC, ARA call for Budget support for Inland Rail

Michael Kilgariff, Managing Director of the Australian Logistics Council (ALC) has spoken out ahead of the release of the 2017/18 Federal Budget, noting that Budget support is the “best chance” the Inland Rail project has of moving into the construction phase.
“It is already clear that infrastructure development will be a central theme in this year’s document,” Kilgariff said.
“This project is a long-held priority for ALC, as it is for many in the freight and logistics industry. That’s why it was a core focus of ALC’s pre-Budget submission.”
Danny Broad, CEO, Australasian Railway Association (ARA), also stressed the need for Inland Rail investment. “The ARA outlined in its pre-budget submission that a significant financial commitment is needed in order to boost rail efficiency and urban liveability,” Broad said.
“The ARA has indicated that a firm commitment by the Commonwealth to vital infrastructure, such as Inland Rail and rail to ports is necessary.
“Inland Rail will increase Australia’s GDP by $16 billion. It is profitable from day one – for every $1 the Commonwealth invests there is a return of $2.60 to our economy. Inland Rail will inject 16,000 jobs at its peak, retaining 700 jobs every year over the life of the project. Inland Rail will reduce congestion on our roads with fewer heavy vehicle movements and improve our nation’s environmental sustainability.”
“An ongoing commitment to increasing urban and regional rail projects is also necessary. The ARA looks to the Commonwealth Government to work with State and Territory Governments as partners in investing into rail. Ongoing financial support needs to be provided to enhance our liveability in our cities and growth corridors.
“We urge the Commonwealth Government to also take action on road pricing. The Commonwealth needs to act on mass-distance-location charging mechanisms for heavy vehicles along major interstate routes which compete with rail. The playing field on this issue has been unequal for far too long. Options for independent price regulation of heavy vehicle charges need to be commenced, including trial elements of heavy vehicle road reform.
The Inland Rail project is expected to receive an allocation of $1 billion in the Federal Budget.
Kilgariff also said that funding to equip authorities such as Infrastructure Australia (IA) with the resources necessary to undertake their core functions will help the development of the National Freight and Supply Chain Strategy.
“IA is particularly important in this regard, as its professional and apolitical approach helps to ensure that infrastructure development remains subject to rigorous, evidence-based assessments, and that projects ultimately deliver the best economic and social outcomes for the community,” he said.
“As in previous years, ALC will be closely monitoring what emerges on Budget Night, and will provide commentary regarding its impact on the freight and logistics industry.”
The 2017/18 Federal Budget will be announced on the evening on Tuesday 9 May, 2017.

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