MINISTER for freight Melissa Horne says rail will be crucial in the future of container movements in and around the Port of Melbourne.

Addressing the Victorian Transport Association State Conference at San Remo, Ms Horne said with the freight task in Melbourne set to triple over the next 30 years, infrastructure had to keep up.

“The port rail shuttle is on its way. The Melbourne Market site expression of interest is now open and is protecting the future for ports and freight use,” Ms Horne said.

“Later this year we will be releasing the business cases for the Western Interstate Freight Terminal and Beveridge Interstate Freight Terminal.

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“Negotiations are underway with the Commonwealth on the ARTC lease and Inland Rail.”

Ms Horne also talked of how crucial it was to ensure farmers were able to easily get their exports to ports, while also addressing the issue of truck levels near Port of Melbourne.

“The Port of Melbourne is an economic asset for the whole state, it contributes $6bn to our economy [annually],” the minister said.

“Under a business as usual scenario, port traffic would grow from 11,000 trucks per weekday in 2016, to about 24,000 in 2050 – it is simply unsustainable, both from an operational perspective and also from an economic perspective.”

This, she argued, strengthened the need for on-dock rail.

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