VTA backs state Budget to help relieve congestion


But Britnell points to lack of rail freight project funding

VTA backs state Budget to help relieve congestion
Tullamarine Freeway is to gain from airport rail in 2029

 

The Victorian Transport Association (VTA) expects the mammoth Victorian Budget to kick-start the state’s recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.

With the states opening up the spending spigots to get their economies underway again, the VTA is expecting actions will improve productivity for Victorian freight operators, largely in the form of infrastructure works on the state’s transport networks that will ease road congestion throughout Melbourne and across the state.

Key measures it highlights include:

  • Road – A total of $1.6 billion in road network and infrastructure initiatives, including $2.5 million in the ‘Summer Streets’ program to provide traffic management during Covid-safe outdoor events, $117 million package of road and intersection upgrades across Melbourne and $411 million to resurface, rebuild and maintain 1,700km of road
  • Rail – $2.2 billion on the Suburban Rail Loop, $2 billion on Geelong fast rail, $660 million for the next stages of upgrades on the Shepparton and Warrnambool line. The government will also spend $276.5 million on the Dandenong corridor to allow for faster high-capacity metro trains to run and $5.5 million on track works around Caulfield station to enable the separation of the Frankston and Dandenong lines
  • Trams – $1.48 billion will be spent on building 100 new modern accessible trams to retire the ageing A and Z-class trams. What will be the largest tram order in decades will include an order for new E-Class trams and possibly another variety, will also go towards a new maintenance facility in Melbourne’s north-west to support 1,900 jobs.

The VTA notes that, Melbourne will finally get an airport rail connection with the Commonwealth and Victorian government each contributing $5 billion towards "a project that will dramatically ease pressure on road networks in the north and north-west of the city".

It is projected to open in 2029.

A Building Works Package will also provide $359 million for maintenance and repairs for transport infrastructure including resurfacing roads, maintaining rail and upgrading jetties and piers, with $20 million to upgrade key freight routes and support agricultural supply chains.

"After a horror year, significant action was required to spur economic growth, recover jobs and restore Victorians’ confidence in our state," VTA CEO Peter Anderson says.

"The government is to be commended for initiating projects that will ease congestion on our transport networks, which will support freight and logistics operators in their ongoing quest to improve productivity and the service they provide their customers and Victorian consumers."


Read about the Victorian Budget spending pledges, here


The state opposition, however, faults the infrastructure spend, saying it ignores rail freight improvements.

It says there is nothing for the partially complete Murray Basin Rail program.

"What has been done needs to be ripped up, replaced and there’s no plans to complete the project to its original scope," it adds.

"It will mean more trucks carrying this year’s bumper harvest will be forced onto already crumbling country roads."

And the opposition describes the Port Rail Shuttle Network as "idle", six years after it was first funded.

"When it comes to freight rail, Labor has taken its bat and ball and gone home,"shadow ports and freight minister Roma Britnell says.

"Rather than try and fix the mistakes the Andrews Labor Government made on the Murray Basin Rail project, a project that would create jobs and ongoing economic prosperity, it has simply ignored it.

"Rail provides an efficient way for producers to get product to market and takes trucks off our crumbling roads, but Labor can’t see the value or simply doesn’t care."

 

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