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Victoria invests in moving more grain by freight rail

The Victorian government is looking to further invest in the state’s $4.4 billion grain industry through new freight rail funding

The Victorian government has announced it is investing in the state’s regional rail freight network to shift more grain by rail.

Victorian ports and freight minister Melissa Horne visited GrainCorp’s Geelong export terminal to see how more than $183 million in government investments have made rail freight more efficient and attractive.

While there, she announced the state is continuing funding to give the state’s $4.4 billion grain industry the confidence it needs to shift more grain by rail freight for both domestic and export markets.

Grain volumes moved by rail in Victoria increased by 95 per cent between July and December 2023 compared to the same period in 2022.

This has resulted in an extra 500,000 tonnes of grain transported across the state by rail – with one standard 3,000-tonne grain train carrying about $1.2 million worth of produce being the equivalent of removing 70 B-Double trucks from regional roads.

The state government’s investment in the regional freight network has allowed heavier trains to discharge at Geelong Port through increasing axle-load capability at key grain handling sites as well as through recommissioning the Gheringhap loop near Geelong.

V/Line has already delivered axle-load capability upgrades across Piangil, Woorinen, Tocumwal, Murchison East, Elmore, Mitiamo, Charlton and Wycheproof, with more upgrades in the pipeline.

GrainCorp has since invested in rail improvements at several of its up-country sites in Victoria to handle larger and more modern wagons, including extending railway sidings at some terminals in partnership with V/Line to accommodate longer, heavier trains.

Further confidence in the rail network was demonstrated by operator Southern Shorthaul Railroad’s recent purchase of 22 new broad-gauge grain wagons – the first order for new broad-gauge grain wagons in 16 years.

In October 2022 V/Line, bulk grain handling companies, and rail freight operator Pacific National formed the Grain Rail Improvement Plan Working Group – formalising its commitment to optimise the rail freight network.

“Our targeted investments in our regional freight network have given our grain industry the confidence to put more of their grain on trains more often – helping to take more trucks off our roads,” Horne says.

Victorian agriculture minister Ros Spence says the government is “proudly supporting the livelihood of Victorian farmers” by investing in how they get their product from farm to market in a safe and secure manner.

“GrainCorp is working closely with the Victorian government and industry stakeholders to improve rail infrastructure in Victoria, to facilitate quicker and more efficient movement of grain from our sites to end users in domestic and export markets,” GrainCorp COO Klaus Pamminger says.

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