Government backs Port of Melbourne rail shuttle

Port small

The Australian and Victorian Governments have announced that they will back several projects aimed at taking trucks off local roads and connecting major Victorian freight hubs with the Port of Melbourne, using the existing rail network.

The Governments will soon seek expressions of interest to deliver a series of rail freight ‘shuttle’ initiatives on the existing rail network by connecting the port to major freight hubs and businesses.

Federal Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Darren Chester said the proposal would take advantage of rail’s ability to shift larger volumes of freight than trucks, while also busting congestion in Victoria’s capital.

“The Australian Government’s free trade agreements are seeing a boom in exports, which has led to trucks taking more produce and freight to the ports,” said Chester.

“This project will provide the ability to shift larger volumes of freight via rail compared to trucks, and reduce congestion on our roads.

“The freight and logistics industry had identified rail’s potential to reduce transport costs by about 10 per cent, with the proposal potentially improving Australia’s competitiveness, which is why the Australian Government is investing $8.4 billion in the Inland Rail project connecting Brisbane and Melbourne.”

Victorian Minister for Roads, Road Safety and Ports Luke Donnellan said the initiative will take trucks off local roads in Melbourne’s inner west.

“The Port of Melbourne will remain our primary freight hub for a generation. With container numbers expected to double over the next two decades we need to act now to share the load between road and rail,” Donnellan said.

“Alongside the West Gate Tunnel, 24-hour truck bans in the inner west and the Port’s rail access plans, this project will help shift containers from residential streets onto dedicated routes to the port.”

Michael Kilgariff, Managing Director, ALC, welcomed the Governments’ support of rail freight.

“Moving more freight to rail, where it makes sense commercially, has the potential to significantly improve freight efficiency, while at the same time improving urban amenity, reducing road congestion and decreasing queuing times at ports,” Kilgariff said.

“[The] ALC has been a consistent supporter of the Port Rail Shuttle project, which will be a significant enhancement to the Port of Melbourne, producing real benefits for freight efficiency in Victoria, and across the nation’s supply chains.

“In NSW, the state government is committed to doubling the amount of freight entering and leaving Port Botany by rail, which currently sits at 19.3 per cent. NSW Ports is likewise committed to moving 3 million TEU by rail over the longer term.

“There needs to be an equal focus on promoting greater use of short haul rail services for freight movement in Victoria.

“The Port Rail Shuttle will build on other significant investments being made in freight infrastructure – including the Inland Rail project, which will link the Port of Melbourne with the Port of Brisbane when fully completed.

“Constructing the Port Rail Shuttle to provide a rail connection between the Port of Melbourne and inland ports in Victoria is a crucially important aspect of improving the state’s freight network and driving greater supply chain efficiency and safety.”