A RAIL solution for the Port of Melbourne will be crucial as Victoria recovers from COVID-19, chief executive Brendan Bourke says.

Mr Bourke was commenting following confirmation work on the Port Rail Transformation Project will start on 1 June, with all the project’s preconditions completed.

The $125m initiative is to involve significant rail infrastructure works and a new rail operating framework inside the port to provide an alternative to moving containers by trucks.

An increase in the tariff of $9.75 per TEU on full import containers, to take effect on 1 June, will help bankroll the project.

“A rail solution for the port will play a vital role in Victoria’s post-COVID economic recovery with a large construction project supporting jobs as well as supporting the more efficient movement of freight and contributing to a more productive supply chain for decades to come,” Mr Bourke said. 

“The Port of Melbourne has listened to industry feedback and is responding with a solution that meets the need for increased transparency in rail access arrangements, improved port access and greater capacity.”

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Mr Bourke said Port of Melbourne would work closely with port users and other stakeholders.

“It’s vital that we all stay focused on the bigger picture – delivering the right infrastructure and operating environment to drive efficiencies in the supply chain so that we can continue to play our role in the state’s economic future,” he said.  

Port of Melbourne is to develop a website portal containing the information industry require to take advantage of the new operating framework.

The Australian Logistics Council was among those to welcomed confirmation the Port Rail Transformation Project would proceed.

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

“The construction of new on-dock rail infrastructure at Swanson Dock East will help to realise those benefits,” he said.

“Of course, the development of significant new freight infrastructure such as that now being progressed by the Port of Melbourne will also help stimulate economic and employment growth, which will be vital in helping Australia to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Mr Coningham said it also would be crucial for the Commonwealth and Victorian governments to work cooperatively to preserve corridors and make investments permitting Webb Dock to be connected to Victoria’s rail freight network.

“Investment in on-dock rail solutions will be critical to improving the efficiency of Australia’s supply chains,” he said.

“The Port of Melbourne’s project is a welcome contribution to ongoing national efforts to construct more on-dock rail, including works that have been commenced by NSW Ports and Patrick Terminals at Port Botany.”

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