Governments invest $500 million to boost rail freight capacity

By: Jason Whittaker

The Federal and Victorian governments are committing more than $500 million to Victoria’s north-east rail corridor to boost rail freight

The Federal and Victorian governments are committing more than $500 million to Victoria’s north-east rail corridor to boost rail freight capacity along critical routes.

Victorian Premier John Brumby and Minister for Transport and Infrastructure Anthony Albanese announced the project, with Albanese saying it will ensure rail will be able to cope with growing freight volumes which are expected to increase by 70 percent in the next 20 years.

The $501.3 million will remove the rail line from the centre of Wodonga and convert 200km of broad gauge track to standards gauge between Seymour and Albury. New passing loops will also be constructed.

This, Albanese says, will link freight trains to Australia’s busiest interstate freight corridor that runs through Victoria and New South Wales.

The project is expected to start later this year and be completed in 2010.

The multi-million dollar project is funded under the North-East Rail Revitalisation Project, with $45 million coming from AusLink, $285 million from the Federal Government-owned Australian Rail Track Corporation and $171.3 million from the Victorian Government.

"Across the corridor, the Australian Government is investing $330 million, with $45 million to the Wodonga Rail Bypass and $285 million to the Australian Rail Track Corporation to manage Victoria’s north-east line," Albanese says.

He says the new rail line will get goods to market more efficiently.

"It will also generate major improvements for rail freight operations and comes on the back of our $133.8 million buy-back of the regional freight network and $43 million investment to upgrade priority major freight lines," Brumby says.

The ARTC is to take on responsibility of the new north-east standard gauge rail line as part of the 45-year lease agreement with Victoria.

ARTC Chief Executive David Marchant says the investment represents a significant step in the growth of rail freight as well as reduce the need for trucks.

"This new agreement will see valuable long term improvements in the Victorian standard gauge rail network that will breathe new life in to freight rail in the State," he says.

"Rail will be more than competitive again and as each 1500 metre long train can replace 100 semi trailers we could see fewer trucks on our major roads."

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