THE HEAVILY-indebted Victorian Government yesterday [7 May] brought down its 2024-25 budget, described by economist as “the most conservative for 10 years”, but has still found funds for road and rail freight investment.

Main points are:

  • $133 million to support the regional rail network, including operating newly-delivered train stabling yards, stations and VLocity trains, and upgrading the 150-year-old historic rail tunnel between Geelong and South Geelong.
  • $104 million for works to keep rail freight moving across Victoria, including encouraging operators to take up rail, reducing trucks on local roads.
  • As part of a 10-year $6.6 billion investment, $964 million will be spent to maintain Victoria’s road network this coming year alone – including extra funding to clean up damage from flooding. This is nearly double the average spend of $493 million between 2010 and 2014, the government claims.
  • The flooding and storms over summer significantly damaged roads. To help communities in their recovery, an extra $100 million has been allocated to repairs, including pavements, infrastructure and fixing landslips. The Budget also provides $17 million to improve metropolitan Melbourne roads and intersections.

Regional Victoria will also benefit, with $62 million for upgrades to make regional roads safer and improve freight routes, including:

  • Upgrading the Princes Highway East between Melbourne and the Latrobe Valley in Gippsland.
  • Upgrading the Sale Alternative Truck Route in Gippsland, creating better freight routes and reducing the number of trucks travelling through the town centre.
  • Upgrading the Dimboola Bridge and the Dadswell Bridge on the heavily-used Western Highway freight route.

The government is also preparing for the opening of the West Gate Tunnel in 2025, allocating money for new camera technology that will enforce legislated 24/7 truck bans on roads across Melbourne’s inner west communities – taking an expected 9,000 truck movements off local roads.

The government will also continue to subsidise Port Philip and Yarra River ferry services.