Victorian Government commits to freight

Transport Minister Terry Mulder offers $550,000 to temporarily reopen the Toolamba to Kyabram and Echuca rail lines

March 15, 2011

The Victorian Government will spend $550,000 to temporarily reopen the Toolamba to Kyabram and Echuca rail line.

While the former Labor Government has "allowed" rail freight lines such as Dimboola to Yaapeet, Shepparton to Dookie and Ararat to Maryborough to either "close or decay to a point where freight trains had to be suspended", the Coalition Government wants to re-open country freight lines where demand exists, Transport Minister Terry Mulder says.

"Until the Baillieu Government acted, the last revenue freight train on the Echuca to Toolamba line was on 11 July 2007," Mr says.

V/Line is undertaking essential major maintenance on the Seymour to Toolamba section of the Shepparton line, with 400 metres of track near Toolamba to be reconstructed next month due to sinkholes appearing in an embankment.

"While V/Line will provide passengers with replacement buses until at least 7 April, freight from the Tocumwal (NSW) and Mooroopna container terminals would have been forced onto trucks at an extra cost of up to $400 a container," he says.

The first train to use the re-opened Echuca to Toolamba line arrived at Mooroopna last Sunday and at its Tocumwal destination yesterday morning, he adds.

The container freight train will depart Tocumwal on Wednesday and Mooroopna bound for Melbourne’s Appleton Dock via Kyabram, Echuca and Bendigo.

Victorian and southern NSW exporters, such as Murray Goulburn, Swift’s Meats, Wilson’s Stockfeeds, Campbells and HW Greenham are set to benefit as the cost of sending containers on rail is up to $400 a box which is cheaper than by road, Mulder says.

"There is 300,000 tonnes of wheat at Tocumwal this year, along with an annual 13,000 tonnes of potatoes and many containers of hay, cheese, fruit and meat exported each year worldwide that begin the trip by rail from Tocumwal or Mooroopna."

Gray’s Container Terminal Operator Barry Gray welcomed the government’s funding.

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