PORT of Melbourne has officially broken ground on the Port Rail Transformation Project, which will enable more containers to be moved by rail, more efficiently, by bypassing roads in inner Melbourne.

The project is to increase rail terminal capacity and improve rail terminal operations at the port.

Port of Melbourne chief executive officer Saul Cannon said the port is committed to investing in rail infrastructure to move more freight by rail.

“We are really excited to see this project coming out of the ground,” he said.

The PRTP involves the development and construction of a new rail terminal interfacing with the Swanson Dock East International Container Terminal. The rail terminal will include two new sidings that can handle 600-metre-long trains. Common user rail infrastructure will also be upgraded.

A new road to facilitate an uninterrupted connection for movement of containers between the new rail terminal and the wider Swanson Dock precinct will also be constructed. Port of Melbourne has engaged Seymour Whyte Constructions for the project.

The PRTP will provide the port side infrastructure to welcome future metropolitan shuttles through the Victorian government’s Port Rail Shuttle Network. Around 94% of Victoria’s import containers are destined for metropolitan Melbourne, but no freight is currently moved on the metropolitan rail freight network.

“We know that freight on rail has stagnated in the past ten years, we want to turn that around. The PRTP opens up new opportunities for metropolitan freight movements on rail,” Mr Cannon said.

This project forms part of Port of Melbourne’s 2050 Port Development Strategy, which defines critical infrastructure needed to support the economic growth of Victoria.

The PRTP is scheduled for completion in mid-2023.