Billion-dollar boost for Victorias freight industry

By: Jason Whittaker


The Victorian Government will invest more than $1 billion in the State’s freight transport industry, as it attempts to boost

The Victorian Government will invest more than $1 billion in the State’s freight transport industry, as it attempts to boost productivity and efficiency.

The Government today unveiled its $38 billion Victorian Transport Plan, which will bankroll road, rail and port projects throughout the State, with a strong focus on new road and rail infrastructure.

Key rail freight lines in rural and regional Victoria will be upgraded, with the Government committing another $180 million to the projects highlighted in the Rail Freight Network Review.

Minister for Public Transport Lynne Kosky says the funds will restore the lines to allow trains to run at 65 kilometres an hour.

Part of the funds will be used to maintain investment, while Kosky says money will also be invested in establishing intermodal freight terminals scattered around Victoria.

The Government’s Freight Futures strategy, released in conjunction with its transport plan, sets aside $340 million to be spent on a new interstate rail terminal at Donnybrook to help take trucks away from the Dynon area and inner suburbs.

Minister for Roads and Ports Tim Pallas says decentralising freight movement will increase efficiency by reducing non port-related freight movements in Melbourne’s inner west.

The Government will also invest in a network of metropolitan freight terminals, with $260 million being spent on an international freight terminal at the Port of Melbourne to encourage more efficient freight movements within the city by rail and road.

The other big-ticket item is a $340 million joint-government initiative to help the Green Triangle cope with a surge in the exports.

"The importance of the Green Triangle region to not only Victoria’s economy, but to the national economy, will increase significantly over the coming years, as the lucrative woodchip export market continues to grow," Pallas says.

The Government is banking on securing finance from the Rudd Government’s Building Australia Fund, which is designed for port, road, rail and communications projects.

Pallas says the Brumby Government, in partnership with South Australia, local industry and the Port of Portland, has developed the Green Triangle Freight Action Plan to identify opportunities and future needs.

This includes re-opening and standardising key rail freight lines in Victoria and South Australia and creating access for high productivity vehicles on key routes.

The final part of the $1.1 billion freight investment will be spent on the Port of Hastings, with the Government committing $20 million to preliminary planning to ensure the port can cope when Melbourne reaches capacity.

"Expansion at the Port of Hastings is still a longer-term prospect, but it is important for detailed planning and environmental studies to begin," Pallas says.

Road Funding Boost

The Government will also separately invest $1.9 billion from the transport plan on upgrading outer suburban roads, as well as $1.2 billion for regional road projects.

A new $2.5 billion road tunnel to cross the Maribyrnong River will run under Footscray, reducing the reliance on the West Gate Bridge.

A further $6 billion will be spent to link the Eastern Freeway at Bulleen with the Metropolitan Ring Road at Greensborough

"Planning will start immediately on the 3.5 kilometre, $80 million Dingley Bypass, in the south-east, with work underway in 2010," Premier John Brumby says.

The $750 million Peninsula Link will also begin next year provided Victoria can gain federal funding. The project with construct a 25 kilometre four-lane freeway from EastLink at Carrum Downs to Mount Martha, bypassing Frankston and opening up the Mornington Peninsula.

A further $10 million has also been set aside to investigate an Outer Metropolitan Ring Transport Corridor to link Werribee, Melton, Tullamarine and Craigieburn.

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