Industry has prioritised the optimisation of the freight network for maximum capacity, and an understanding of timelines for harvest and movement of goods, in recent meetings with the Victorian Government.
The Andrews Government recently met with leading rail freight and farming industry representatives to discuss the state’s Freight-Passenger Rail Separation Project, and the Murray Basin Rail Project.
Reporting back from the meetings, Rail Freight Advisory Council chair Peter Tuohey said clear themes included the need to optimise rail freight operations to boost the capacity of Victoria’s rail freight network.
The meetings also provided an opportunity for industry members to give clear timelines for harvest and movement of goods, informing the project delivery timelines and advice on how to ensure good communication and engagement as works continue, he added.
“The workshops demonstrated government’s commitment to genuinely consult with industry experts,” Tuohey said. “The group were ideally placed to provide expert advice to government to make sure our farmers and the freight industry aren’t disadvantaged, while these important projects are delivered.”
The $130 million Freight-Passenger Rail Separation Project will deliver a number of track and signalling improvements which were not included in the original Murray Basin Rail Project, as well as providing the infrastructure to support future increases in passenger rail.
The project will ensure a minimum of 42 weekly return freight paths from the Murray Basin region through Ballarat, with the ability to increase to 65 if required via the Ararat and Maryborough loop.
Work also continues on the next stages of the Murray Basin Rail Project.
Transport minister Jacinta Allan said there was strong support for both projects at the meetings, with an emphasis from industry to prioritise delivery of the Freight-Passenger Rail Separation Project to ensure it is complete before finalising the standardisation and upgrade works on the Sea Lake, Manangatang and Gheringhap to Warrenheip lines, being the remaining stages of the Murray Basin Rail Project.
“The Murray Basin Rail Project and the Freight-Passenger Rail Separation Project are critical projects for our freight industry and it’s essential that we get it right,” Allan said. “As we do this work it’s important we continue to work alongside farmers and the industry to keep trains running. I look forward to continuing working with these stakeholders, as project delivery strategies are finalised.”
Industry reportedly supported a 2020 delivery timeline for the Freight-Passenger Rail Separation Project and the remaining stages of the Murray Basin Rail Project.