Victorian infrastructure plan tabled and backed by industry

VTA and ALC support highlights North East Link and Western Interstate Freight Terminal

Victorian infrastructure plan tabled and backed by industry
The plan document’s cover


Transport and freight industry bodies have given Infrastructure Victoria’s finalised 30-year plan the thumbs up on projects close to their members’ hearts.

For the Victorian Transport Association (VTA) it was prioritisation of the missing North East Link in a final 30-year tabling the Victoria’s 30-year Infrastructure Strategy document tabled in state parliament today, while the Australian Logistics Council expects it "bolster national supply chain investment and reform".

With up to $35 million of federal and state funding earmarked for routing and feasibility studies, the VTA believes the North East Link between the M80 Ring Road at Greensborough and Eastlink should be expedited.

"Infrastructure Victoria’s designation of the North East Link as the state’s priority road project is welcome news among transport operators that have been calling for the construction of an efficient and safe connection between Eastlink and the Ring Road for many years," CEO Peter Anderson says.

"With increasing bi-partisan recognition among state and federal parliamentarians that the North East Link is vital for the efficient movement of people and goods between Melbourne’s north and south east, we urge the state government to initiate a feasibility study of the project, including possible routing options."

Infrastructure Victoria says the road would generate returns of between $1.40 and $2.10 for every $1 invested, and that it therefore "provides the greatest benefit for the cost".

Anderson also welcomed recommendations in the plan, whose implementation over time would be vital for securing Victoria as the nation’s freight and logistics capital, including:

  • dellivering a port rail shuttle, with consideration of the rail access strategy prepared by the new port owner, within 0-5 years.
  • identifying existing and future potential freight precincts requiring planning protection in respect of air, land and sea freight operations within 0-5 years.
  • identifying trigger points for the construction of the Western Interstate Freight Terminal and undertake detailed planning for the terminal within 0-5 years.
  • increasing the capacity and optimise the use of freight terminals for interstate and international trade
  • establishing a transparent and evidence based process for prioritising, at a state level, regional highway upgrades that will increase productivity and safety for road users within 0-5 years.
  • rolling out a program of upgrades to the road network supporting high mass High Productivity Freight Vehicles(HPFV), particularly bridges to accommodate heavier axle loads, over 5-15 years.
  • standardisinge rail gauge in northeast Victoria within 5-10 years and continue planning for the remainder of the broad gauge regional rail network to determine other priority areas for standardisation.

For the ALC, given it deals with nationally significant economic linkages, the Victorian strategy’s importance went beyond state borders.

"The Strategy will feed into the issues that are put under the infrastructure microscope as the
Government undertakes an independent inquiry to inform the development of a National Freight and Supply Chain Strategy," ALC MD Michael Kilgariff says. 

"I look forward to the Strategy’s recommendations filling some of the gaps in the broader national freight supply chain puzzle, which must be addressed to create a truly national freight supply chain network. 

"In that regard, I am encouraged by Infrastructure Victoria’s recommendation to focus on the
steps Victoria can take to improve supply chains and link in with broader national plans.

"This includes securing a site for the Western Interstate Freight Terminal, to which the
Commonwealth’s inland freight rail project could connect.

"The Strategy also makes the important point that freight does not stop at the state border,
thereby underscoring the need for a National Freight and Supply Chain Strategy. 

"More broadly, ALC welcomes the Strategy’s recommendations to improve the efficiency of
Victoria’s supply chains, and its acknowledgement of the need to plan ahead for port
capacity and to address infrastructure pressures."

Kilgariff notes that with Victoria’s freight task potentially reaching around 170 billion net tonne-kilometres per annum by 2046 – an increase of over 125 per cent on present day levels – the state needs a long-term blueprint to properly manage future growth on key freight corridors.

"The Strategy includes a number of practical proposals to achieve this, such as protecting
freight precincts, improving Port of Melbourne rail access, expanding high productivity
vehicles, road investment reform and progressing the Western Interstate Freight Terminal," he emphasises. 

"We also acknowledge the Strategy’s recognition that planning for an efficient freight network  requires strong and effective partnerships between government and industry and an integrated approach to land use planning.

"In considering its response to these recommendations, I encourage the State Government
to focus on linkages to the Port of Melbourne and incorporate all modes of transport, including short-haul rail, which needs to play a greater role into the future as the port continues to move greater number of containers each year.

"It is imperative that this Strategy is a dynamic, living document, and not put in the bottom
drawer and forgotten." 

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