Victorian budget boost for ports infrastructure

<p>The ports of Geelong and Portland are big winners from this year’s Victorian budget with more than $28m for rail and road link projects.</p> <p>The Toll-owned port of Geelong will get connection to the standard gauge network via a $13.5m link into Corio Quay, North Shore and Lascelles Wharf.</p> <p>Toll’s Victorian manager for port operations, Keith Gordon said the port currently had no rail access to its bulk operations at Lascelles Wharf and the new link would open up possibilities for "substantial development".</p> <p>"This is a very much needed piece of infrastructure, a very key piece of infrastructure that we have been pushing for, for many years," Mr Gordon said.</p> <p>Opportunities could include mineral sands, he said.</p> <p>"We anticipate that this link could be up and running in 12 months. I don’t think that is unrealistic," he said.</p> <p>The port of Portland will get a $15m overpass, which will separate trains and trucks going into the facility from local traffic on nearby Cliff Street.</p> <p>Victorian transport minister Peter Batchelor said the dedicated access route into the port will enable freight to move with greater efficiency.</p> <p>"It will allow the port to establish a one-way ring road system for trucks, meaning less congestion, delays and higher truck throughput," Mr Batchelor said.</p> <p>The port’s marketing manager, Peter Klein, said the overpass is also an essential safety measure. </p> <p>"We forecast that new hard woodchip and mineral sand trade over the next two to five years will result in truck movements at the port doubling, creating a potential black spot for residential traffic," Mr Klein said</p> <p>Mr Batchelor said the Government had a commitment to standardising the state’s rail freight network, but blamed the previous government’s decision to lease the regional network to Freight Australia as the reason behind the delays in the program.</p> <p>"Because the government does not directly control the track it does not have the power to unilaterally undertake capital works projects," he said.</p> <p>Discussions with Freight Australia on access and standardisation continue, he said.</p> <p>Victorian Employers’ Chamber of Commerce and Industry CEO Neil Coulson welcomed the improved road and rail links but called for further improvements.</p> <p>"However, the major infrastructure challenges over the remainder of the Government’s term remain channel deepening in Port Phillip Bay and the completion of the Scoresby freeway," Mr Couslon said.</p> <p>The Victorian Government said it is also allocating $1.1m to develop the Dynon Rail Precinct &#8211 a plan aims to form a single transport hub for "seamless" freight movement between the Dynon rail terminals and the port of Melbourne. </p> <br />