The Victorian Liberal Nationals’ commitment of $1.5 million towards a feasibility study to assess options for a rail link to connect Webb Dock with the freight rail network is set to expand rail capacity and reduce congestion.

Bob Herbert AM, Chairman, Australasian Railway Association (ARA) said the ARA  is strongly supportive of expanding rail capacity at the Port of Melbourne, and providing rail infrastructure, both on and off-dock, to move freight between ports and intermodal terminals.

“Improving port connectivity has been a key focus of the ARA’s submission to the Victorian Government’s Freight Plan discussion paper,” Mr Herbert said.

“Port of Melbourne is a central node in the Victorian Supply Chain, handling 2.5 million containers annually.”

Efficient freight rail to the port, including to Webb Dock, will help to reduce congestion, improve safety and urban amenity. Congestion is the dominant challenge in cities and infrastructure networks, particularly in Melbourne.

“Improving port rail connections has also been a key focus of the Commonwealth Government’s recently released National Freight and Supply Chain Strategy Inquiry report.

“Growing congestion threatens to cost Australians $53 billion by 2031 as the population increases to 30.5 million. Demand on many key urban road and rail corridors is projected to significantly exceed current capacity by 2031. Getting more freight on to rail in our cities is critical to addressing this growing issue,” Mr Herbert said.

The ARA also welcomed the Victorian Liberal Nationals’ proposed expansion of the Mode Shift Expansion Scheme (MSIS). Mr Herbert said that the MSIS is an important initiative that helps to reduce truck numbers on Victoria’s country roads and highways.

“In our recently released Value of Rail Report prepared by Deloitte Access Economics, we know that one freight train is estimated to get 110 trucks off the road, and emits 16 times less carbon pollution per tonne kilometre than a heavy vehicle.

“The facts stack up and the ARA supports getting trucks off our regional roads through the extension of the successful Mode Shift Incentive Scheme.

“We look forward to the Victorian Government and the Opposition continuing to prioritise rail freight infrastructure investment in the lead up to the state election,” Mr Herbert said.

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