Major freight hubs in Melbourne’s north and west will soon be connected to the Port of Melbourne with a $25.7 million investment that will see more than 70,000 containers moved on rail instead of on local roads.

The Victorian Government will invest $16.2 million to connect Austrak’s facility at Somerton and $9.5 million to connect the SCT Logistics facility at Altona to the Port Rail Shuttle Network (PRSN).

The investment will see an additional $46 million in private-sector funded upgrades, meaning that there’ll be nearly $2 of private investment for every $1 invested under the project.

The projects will help maintain the Port of Melbourne’s position as the largest volume container port in Australia, create hundreds of jobs and help deliver a reduction in transport costs.

Freight Victoria is currently assessing a proposal put forward by the Port of Melbourne which will deliver a ‘full on-dock’ rail solution by integrating the stevedore and rail terminals at the port.

As a result, funding allocated for port-side improvements will be placed on hold while the government considers the Port of Melbourne proposal to deliver the port side stage of a Port Rail Shuttle Network.

Minister for Ports, Luke Donnellan, said these projects will take tens of thousands of trucks off Melbourne’s streets, create hundreds of jobs and increase the competitiveness of Victorian industry.

“There’s still more to be done, that’s why we’re considering the Port of Melbourne’s proposal to deliver a full ‘on-dock solution’ which on interim advice from Freight Victoria would reduce rail supply chain costs and meet the expected growth in container volumes at the port,” Mr Donnellan said.

“Whether it’s the West Gate Tunnel, North East Link, the Mordialloc Freeway or these port rail shuttle projects – only Labor is delivering the infrastructure we need to get trucks off our streets and give local roads back to local residents.”

Port of Melbourne CEO, Brendan Bourke, said the funding available through the PRSN is a good first step, but more is needed to deliver on the State’s objectives and industry’s expectations.

“We are determined to plan, invest in and grow the port freight supply chain to support Victoria’s economy,” Mr Bourke said.

“Government has been receptive to our proposal and we are keen to work with them to get the required certainty to enable us to invest.

“That’s why we are proposing a port rail solution that includes infrastructure investment and a new operating framework that will meet industry expectations and deliver a long awaited rail solution,” Mr Bourke said.

Port of Melbourne’s proposal is seeking to deliver:

  • New infrastructure to provide appropriate capacity and operational flexibility
  • Restructured commercial arrangements to support an operating framework that drives cost efficiency and covers access rules and service levels
  • Integration of the rail and stevedoring terminals to deliver real cost savings and supply chain efficiency

Mr Bourke said that the Port of Melbourne would continue engagement with industry in regard to the operating framework of its proposal.

“With the support of industry and government, the Port of Melbourne is committed to deliver an effective rail solution,” Mr Bourke said.

“We want to take cost out of the supply chain and provide improved service levels. The community will also benefit with less trucks on the roads and the freeing up of precious road space for the commute.”

The State Government has also announced it is bringing forward a review into regulating pricing and charges, as well as access to and from the Port, following recently announced increases in stevedore infrastructure charges.

The Victorian and Australian governments have invested $58 million in the Port Rail Shuttle Network Project for initiatives such as providing rail connections which will improve terminal access.

An inland terminal in the south east remains a key priority for the Labor Government given its critical role in freight. Options to connect Melbourne’s south-east to the Port Rail Shuttle network are still being investigated.

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