GOVERNMENTS must get the port connections right for the $8.4bn Inland Rail project to be successful, industry group Shipping Australia says.
Shipping Australia chief executive Rod Nairn was commenting on the announcement of plans for a rail shuttle service between the Port of Melbourne and intermodal terminals.
“Shipping Australia has been pushing for an efficient rail link to the Port of Melbourne for many years and it is good to see some progress,” Mr Nairn said.
“To make the shuttle efficient there needs to be on-dock rail, not a disconnect that requires double handling from the quayside.”
Mr Nairn expressed concern, however, the project had not been organised earlier given it would have a crucial role to play in ensuring the success of Inland Rail.
“It is disappointing that this Melbourne Port rail shuttle is being done as an afterthought,” he said.
“It is even more disappointing that the northern end of Inland Rail stops at Acacia Ridge (in Brisbane) and there is not yet a plan for a dedicated freight rail link to the Port of Brisbane.”
Mr Nairn said rail connections to Melbourne and the development of intermodal terminals were contentious before Port privatisation began and it had been “a frustrating two years until the port was sold”.
“Now that they have some money in the kitty and support from the Commonwealth, at last we are seeing a sensible investment that will facilitate trade,” he said.
“At least the Melbourne port rail shuttle is one step towards safer and more efficient urban freight movement. It will get freight off roads, reduce congestion and ultimately enable the more efficient movement of freight by sea.”