Thursday 22nd Nov, 2018

Port Rail Shuttle prominent in Vic Opposition freight plan

Photo: David Sexton
Photo: David Sexton

REVIVING the Port Rail Shuttle project is a central plank in a freight strategy document released this week by the Victorian Liberal/National Opposition.

In a statement, the Opposition emphasised the need to maximise freight movement efficiency around the Port of Melbourne.

They pledged to:

  • Immediately revive the Port Rail Shuttle project, developing a network of suburban intermodal terminals to improve freight efficiency and productivity;
  • Invest $20m in a four-year extension of the successful Mode Shift Incentive Scheme to take trucks off country and suburban roads;
  • Provide $1.5m for a feasibility study to assess options for a rail link to connect Webb Dock with the freight rail network;
  • Establish an industry working group to advise on new industry innovations in the freight and logistics sector.

Nationals leader and spokesman for regional Victoria Peter Walsh said the Port of Melbourne was vital to regional Victoria.

“We must take action to improve freight movement across Victoria and make sure exporters in regional Victoria can get their product from farm to port quicker,” Mr Walsh said.

Ports spokesman David Hodgett emphasised the importance of rail.

“Webb Dock is best placed to service the next generation of large container vessels calling into Melbourne, but it won’t fulfil its potential unless it has a rail link,” he said.

“An elected Liberal Nationals Government will look at ways to link Webb Dock to the rail network to improve efficiency and get trucks off local roads.”

Travis Brooks-Garrett from the Freight and Trade Alliance and Australian Peak Shippers Association said Victoria’s major exporters would welcome these developments.

“We hope that the government will be able to match these commitments,” Mr Brooks-Garrett said.

The Opposition has also indicated it would build the North East Link and the East West Link concurrently, as well as resolving congestion in Melbourne’s inner east by linking the Eastern Freeway with CityLink or the West Gate Tunnel via one of two new roads.

Victorian Transport Association chief executive Peter Anderson said long-term planning was precisely what was required.

“We need to tackle worsening congestion in Australia’s fastest growing city and we welcome the Opposition’s vision for finally linking Melbourne’s disjointed freeway network,” he said.

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