The Australian and Victorian Governments will soon open expressions of interest to deliver the Port Rail Shuttle project which will take trucks off local roads and connect the Port of Melbourne to major freight hubs using the existing rail network. 

The expressions of interest will include 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. This project will provide the ability to shift larger volumes of freight via rail compared to trucks, and reduce congestion on our roads,” Mr Chester said.

“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.

“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.”

Australian Logistics Council Managing Director, Michael Kilgariff, said “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.

“There needs to be an equal focus on promoting greater use of short haul rail services for freight movement in Victoria, and today’s announcement is a welcome step in helping to achieve that.

“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.”

The Australian Government has committed $38 million and the Victorian Government has committed $20 million to the initiative.

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