Victoria’s rail freight network received a massive boost at the start of this month after the state government committed to additional investment.
According to the Australasian Railway Association (ARA), the government’s decision to inject up to $220 million into Victoria’s north-west rail freight network will reap massive benefits into the future. This investment will centre around standardising the Mildura to Geelong link, a project that will boost links between crucial agricultural hotspots, national network and key ports.
In addition, the investment will have plenty of flow-on positives for the wider economy, says ARA Chief Executive Bryan Nye, with farmers in particular standing to benefit.
“With rail being the most cost effective, safest and least emissions intensive way of moving agricultural freight over long distances, this upgrade will see freight on rail play a big role to play in the future competitiveness of agriculture within Victoria and even more broadly Australia,” he said in a May 5 statement.
“As the cost of transporting agricultural products to market makes up a significant portion of the overall costs of production, greater supply chain efficiencies can deliver real and tangible benefits to farmers and therefore the broader economy.”
He added that these upgrades were timely given the ever-increasing volume of freight in Australia, which is already being recorded at almost 1 billion tonnes per year. Modifying the Mildura tracks from broad to standard gauge will increase Victoria’s rail capacity for shifting freight, easing the pressure on roads.
“Both state and federal governments need to look to invest in key transport infrastructure projects that will set us in good stead for the future,” Mr Nye urged, pointing to the success of the investment in New South Wales’ grain lines.
The first phase of the Victorian railway project focuses on upgrading the Hopetoun and Mildura lines, with the entire project slated to finish by 2018.