VICTORIAN Minister for Ports and Freight Melissa Horne says rail is imperative in handling a burgeoning freight task around the Port of Melbourne.

Ms Horne spoke at the ALC Forum 2019, one of her first industry events since becoming minister following the state election late last year.

“The port’s dependence upon road is in a large part due to the fact that import containers travel such short distances and most are bound for the metropolitan area,” the minister said.

“Of all capital city ports, only Adelaide moves its import containers a shorter distance than Melbourne – 87% of imports and 52% of exports have metropolitan destination or origin.”

Ms Horne said this meant about 5500 trucks [or equivalent] visiting Port of Melbourne each day.

“’With projected growth, this could rise to over 30,000 trucks a day within the term of the [50-year] lease – it is simply unsustainable,” she said.

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Ms Horne said Freight Victoria was assessing a proposal by the Port of Melbourne to deliver an on-dock rail solution by integrating stevedore and rail terminals at Swanson Dock.

This, she said, would be “a game changer for rail, overcoming a key operational constraint on using trains to move export containers from regional Victoria to overseas markets”.

“Better use of rail is one of the conditions imposed by the government in our lease of the Port of Melbourne,” the minister said.

“However it is also a key step in maximising the capacity of the Port of Melbourne.”

Ms Horne also noted a commitment in the Victorian Freight Plan to look at regulating access charges at the Port of Melbourne, “in particular, to making sure the charges for trains do not disadvantage exporters who opt for rail over road”.

In the week of International Women’s Day, Ms Horne noted the need for gender diversity in the logistics workforce, particularly in an industry with an aging demographic.

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