$50 million rail-to-ports project for Melbourne


Tripartite agreement to deliver key rail efficiency gains at Port of Melbourne

By Samantha Freestone

A $50 million rail link connecting the Dynon rail terminal with the Port of Melbourne will be built in 2009 to alleviate bottlenecks.

The Port of Melbourne Rail Access Improvement Project will construct a direct dual gauge track and duplicate an existing dual gauge line connecting into the port from Dock Link Road.

The project is expected to be completed by October 2010.

The initiative will be bankrolled by a tripartite agreement between the Brumby and Rudd governments and the Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC).

Victoria will invest $23.5 million while the Federal Government is committing $10 million to the project.

Minister for Roads and Ports Tim Pallas says trains currently need to undertake shunting manoeuvres or wait for other trains to pass, leading to inefficiencies and congestion in and around the port.

Pallas says the upgrade will improve rail access into the port for interstate and regional freight trains.

The project will convert the north east broad gauge line between Seymour and Albury to standard gauge and the partial conversion of the Albion to Jacana Line to dual gauge.

Combined with the channel deepening, he says the rail links will ensure Victoria is well-equipped to grow the intrastate rail freight task.

However, opposition spokesman on roads and ports Terry Mulder claims the project exposes the Government’s lack of vision.

Mulder says four out of five containers handled by the Port of Melbourne depart from or are bound for metropolitan destinations such as Dandenong, Somerton, Altona or Laverton.

"Under John Brumby’s watch the only port rail container shuttle that Melbourne had from Altona in the south western suburbs to Appleton dock closed down due to its slow speed and the time it took to get through rail yards such as Tottenham," Mulder says.

"The Labor Government’s aim to have 30 percent of containers moving to and from the port of Melbourne by rail by 2010 will not be achieved.

Brumby says rail freight investment is vital to cope with the growing freight task and freight volumes.

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