INDUSTRY entities have broadly welcomed the announcement of plans to spend $125m for an on-dock rail solution at the Port of Melbourne.

The plan was announced on Thursday (January 30) by freight minister Melissa Horne and Port of Melbourne CEO Brendan Bourke.

It is intended to make rail transport more competitive, reduce the cost of ‘last mile’ transport and reduce truck congestion.

“This investment is welcome news, as infrastructure to be built at the port will improve efficiencies within the supply chain and improve productivity for road, rail and sea freight operators tasked with moving goods to and from our state,” said Victorian Transport Association CEO Peter Anderson.

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“We commend Minister Horne for engaging with the industry and taking action to safeguard the Port of Melbourne and the Victorian economy.”

The Australian Logistics Council also praised the announcement.

“Moving more freight by rail can deliver a range of potential benefits for industry participants, for exporters and for local communities,” said ALC CEO Kirk Coningham.

“The development of a new on-dock rail terminal at Swanson Dock East will help make that potential a reality.

“The PRTP will help to alleviate road congestion around the Port of Melbourne, which is critical for logistics companies moving freight into and out of the port, and also for improving the liveability of residential communities near the port.”

Mr Coningham said the ALC also welcomed the Victorian government’s commitment to the further development of the Port Rail Shuttle Network, planned new intermodal facilities at Truganina and Beveridge, and its investment in new automated signalling to improve the efficiency of rail freight to Geelong.

Freight Trade Alliance director and Australian Peak Shippers Association secretariat Paul Zalai said they saw “significant merit” in driving efficiency in the rail supply chain.

But Mr Zalai also argued any fee increases should be offset in order to ensure the port remained competitive.

“While a reduction in the fee structure as announced is welcomed (now $9.75 per TEU as against the originally estimated cost of $15 per TEU), the FTA / APSA position to the PoM and Victorian government remains that any fee increase must now be offset elsewhere to maintain the port’s competitiveness,” he said.

“The introduction of the new tariff only adds to the need for regulation to wind back the stevedore administered infrastructure surcharges and vehicle booking system fees.”

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