AusRAIL, Market Sectors

VECCI pushes channel deepening at summit today

<p>Some ships have not been able to enter the Port Phillip Heads recently due to limited channel depth and have been forced to offload at other ports, according to the Victorian Employers Chamber of Commerce and Industry.</p> <p>The Port of Melbourne Corporation’s proposed channel deepening is one of six infrastructure projects VECCI is pushing at its summit at Parliament House today (Tuesday, November 8).</p> <p>VECCI chief executive Neil Coulson said: "We hope that the Victorian Government will consider them favourably."</p> <p>Ships offloading cargo at other ports for rail freighting to Melbourne has occurred at "great cost and delay," according to a VECCI report compiled by Macquarie Bank chairman Robert Dunlop.</p> <p>"The problem is already impacting on Victoria’s business community, with around 30% of international container vessels not being able to enter Port Phillip Bay fully laden," the report said.</p> <p>Anecdotal evidence shows some companies are also beginning to look outside of Melbourne to serve their logistics requirements.</p> <p>VECCI is also pushing the Dynon rail hub link to improve access to the port, a third track on the Dandenong rail line, new baseload power generation and an eastern recycled treatment plant.</p> <p>The Victorian Government has set a target to move 30% of port-related freight by rail by 2010, up from 10% in 1999.</p> <p>But the port’s only rail access is a single, dual gauge track crossing Footscray Road, which gives priority to road traffic.</p> <p>"The port of Melbourne needs to shift from dependence on road access, to a greater reliance on rail access," VECCI said.</p> <p>The Dynon rail hub link has already received $110m under the Commonwealth Government’s Auslink initiative.</p> <p>Other proposals include a multi-billion dollar road and rail link between Melbourne’s east and west.</p> <p>An underground freight rail line through Footscray connecting the port to the west, is proposed to replace the Bunbury Street rail tunnel that is too shallow for double stacking of containers.</p> <p>VECCI also highlighted the need to set aside land around the port of Melbourne to cater for the proposed infrastructure projects.</p> <p>"A reserve or buffer zone would seem to be essential to prevent further encroachment from impacting on port operations," VECCI said.</p> <p>Buffer zones also need to be established around the Melbourne Airport, the Dynon rail hub, Avalon Airport and regional ports and airports.</p> <p>Requirements for future arterial roads in developing areas need to be identified in municipal strategic plans, with reservations secured in advance of major land development.</p> <p>VECCI also raised the idea of making available freight-only priority lanes on existing roads and freeways.</p> <br />