Vic government takes flack on container shuttle limbo

State MP says the $58 million project has fallen out of favour with the current government

Vic government takes flack on container shuttle limbo
Victorian upper house MP Colleen Hartland


More than 12 months since an initial tender was finalised, Melbourne’s Port Rail Shuttle project appears to have been shelved, at least until after the Port of Melbourne privatisation lease is finalised.

State parliamentarian Colleen Hartland says the $58 million project has already been budgeted for, with contributions from both the federal and state governments.  

But the Greens representative says a lack of political will has kept it from progressing to the next stage of development.

"I have demanded a proper explanation as to why this project, which will provide great social, economic and environmental benefits, has been put on ice," Hartland says.

The Port Rail Shuttle remains listed on the National Infrastructure Construction Schedule with an expected start-date (for construction) of between July and September this year. It is also highlighted by the state department of economic development, transport and resources.

It aims to provide a collection of intermodal freight terminals in Melbourne’s southwest, north, and southeast. These will be connected to the Port of Melbourne via a dedicated rail transfer facility and shuttle trains using off-peak capacity of the existing rail network.

Hartland says the project is keenly anticipated by residents in the city’s west.

"For many years, the people of Yarraville and Footscray have had to put up with the pollution, noise and safety risks of having thousands of massive container trucks rumbling down their local streets every day," she says.

"We have $58 million just sitting idle in the budget for rail access to the port that would remove up to 3500 trucks from our local streets."

The project was seemingly ready to go in July last year, when the then coalition government sought a private tender to develop the project plans. Hartland says it has fallen off the agenda since the new government was elected in November.

A spokesperson for ports minister Luke Donnellan says the government still supports a freight rail proposal at the port.

The minister has identified the Port Rail Shuttle project as one idea in a range of potential initiatives.

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