Rail freight project eyes Mildura link with national network

Standardisation link to Geelong will precede possible extension to east-west line

Rail freight project eyes Mildura link with national network
Victoria pledges more rail infrastructure upgrades

The Victorian Government’s Murray Basin Rail Project has gained rail industry backing.

The pre-Budget announcement will see $220 million spent on country freight rail line upgrades and a standardised Mildura to Geelong rail link.

Australasian Railway Association (ARA) CEO Bryan Nye says the initiative will result increased supply chain efficiencies, thereby making the region’s produce more export competitive.

"The ARA is working with farmers groups in various States to look at infrastructure needs for agriculture," Nye says.

"We have seen good investment in New South Wales grain lines recently and it is encouraging to see Victoria make this bold move."

With construction to be completed by 2018, Deputy Premier and Nationals leader Peter Ryan says the final cost and alignment of the full Mildura to Geelong rail standardisation will be guided by the final business case to be delivered by the end of the year.

Ryan sees the project ultimately connecting to the east-west interstate rail line by enabling a Transcontinental Rail Link between Mildura and Menindee, near Broken Hill.

"The Murray Basin is one of the nation’s leading food production regions, exporting in excess of $3 billion worth of food products and mineral resources per year," Ryan told his party’s state conference at the weekend.

"By converting the existing broad gauge tracks to standard gauge, the Murray Basin Rail Project will deliver modern rail infrastructure and transform Victoria’s freight network to meet the increasing demand for freight services.

"The project involves building and upgrading freight lines to 21 tonne axle loading, providing an immediate 15 per cent productivity improvement that will increase train loads by 300 to 400 tonnes.

"It will improve transport efficiency and enhance access to the ports of Portland, Geelong and Melbourne for Victorian exports.

"A modern and efficient rail freight network is critical to Victoria’s economic productivity and this Project marks the first phase in the Coalition Government’s vision to standardise regional and rural Victoria’s freight-only lines to drive future growth and prosperity."

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