Freight rail efficiency and capacity from the Goulburn Valley in Victoria is being enhanced as part of a $1.75 billion Victorian Regional Rail Revival Package, with $900,000 in planning funding now locked-in following approval.

Deputy Prime Minister, Nationals’ Leader and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development, Michael McCormack, said the project will help improve the reliability and efficiency of freight rail services across northern Victoria.

“The first stage of the project will undertake planning to identify future investment priorities, including options and staging opportunities to standardise the line,” Mr McCormack said.

This is in addition to significant investments being made to improve rail infrastructure across northern Victoria, including $235 million to upgrade the North East Line, $81.9 million to upgrade the Bendigo and Echuca Line and $9 million to upgrade the Shepparton Line.

Victorian Minister for Public Transport and Major Projects, Jacinta Allan, said the second stage of the project would deliver much-needed upgrades to remove restrictions that affect the ability to transport agricultural produce, particularly grain, to the Port of Melbourne.

“We’ll work alongside stakeholders as we get on with this planning work, in addition to the works already underway on the Victorian Government’s $356 million Shepparton Corridor Upgrade,” Ms Allan said.

Federal Member for Murray, Damian Drum, said the efficient and effective transport movement, particularly of freight within, to and from the Greater Shepparton region, is critical to ongoing growth and competitiveness of the city and of the surrounding region.

“With upgrades for passenger services underway on the Shepparton Line, the aim of the project is to understand the impact this increase in services will have on the current and future freight services on this line,” Mr Drum said.

“This work investigates rail infrastructure improvements to retain and improve freight capacity with the planned higher frequency passenger service. The project will also determine future demand for freight services, and consider the significant growth in agricultural industries, including cotton, in northern Victoria.”

The Australian Government has committed $9 million and the Victorian Government $1 million with planning expected to be completed in early 2019.

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