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More than $200 million from the Victorian Budget 2022/23 has been allocated to freight, ports and piers projects that will support local jobs, businesses and communities.

$181 million will be spent on critical maintenance to improve the safety, reliability and rail freight logistics of freight lines throughout regional Victoria.

$3.5 million will continue the Mode Shift Incentive Scheme (MSIS) which supports more than 170 freight industry jobs and removes the equivalent of 28,000 truck trips from Victorian roads every year.

Victoria’s freight volumes are estimated to more than double by 2051, making it vital for rail to take up a greater share of freight movement across the state.

The Port of Melbourne is Australia’s largest and busiest port, with Victoria’s freight industry employing 260,000 workers and generating $21 billion annually for the Victorian economy.

The funding for MSIS will further support rail freight companies to make rail transport costs competitive with road – helping exporters get their goods to port more cost effectively and connecting farmers and local producers to the rest of Australia and the world.

Victorian Minister for Ports and Freight and Fishing and Boating, Melissa Horne, said boosting rail freight network capacity and reliability will help keep Victorian producers competitive both nationally and on a global scale whilst supporting “thousands of jobs across the state”.

A $6.1 million investment will aid in planning a new intermodal terminal at Truganina and allow the government to take trucks off local roads and ensure freight from Inland Rail stays on trains all the way to the Port of Melbourne.

Along Victoria’s coastline, a critical $18 million package of works will be a boon for local communities and businesses that rely on Victoria’s piers and jetties.

Rebuilding and safety works will be undertaken to piers and jetties at Hampton, Rye, Flinders, McLoughlins Beach, Raymond Island, Lakes Entrance, Williamstown and Mornington.

With many of these structures built in the 1970s or earlier, this substantial investment will keep them safe for local communities to enjoy the best of Victorian boating and fishing for decades to come.

“Piers and jetties are an iconic part of Victoria’s coastline and an important focal point for many local families, communities and businesses – we’ll keep them in the best shape so they can be enjoyed for years to come,” said Ms Horne.

Rail freight produces three times less carbon pollution than road freight, helping drive down emissions across Victoria.

Fewer trucks on the road also means fewer hazards for drivers across the state, adding to a safer journey for thousands of Victorians.

ARA welcomes funding

Australasian Railway Association (ARA) Chief Executive Officer, Caroline Wilkie, welcomed funding commitments to support greater use of rail, including $866.3 million to address the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the transport network.

Ms Wilkie said rail patronage had been hit hard by COVID-19 restrictions and bringing people back to the rail network would be an essential part of Victoria’s post pandemic recovery.

“It is essential that people return to public transport to keep Victoria moving efficiently and to support its sustainable growth over time,” Ms Wilkie said.

“Additional measures to address COVID-19 impacts will ensure the industry can continue to make customers’ experience a great one when they return to public transport as a more normal way of life resumes.”

The ARA welcomed $338.1 million for additional services and to operate new transport infrastructure being delivered as part of $90 billion Victoria’s Bid Build program.

Mis Wilkie said the program provided an incredible opportunity to create greater access to public transport and enhanced social outcomes for Victorians.

“Projects like the Level Crossing Removal Project, Suburban Rail Loop and Metro Tunnel will change how people travel to school and work for the better,” Ms Wilkie said.

The budget also confirmed an additional $265 million will be invested into the state’s unprecedented pipeline of locally manufactured trains and trams, including 12 new VLocity trains for the regional rail network.

“The ARA welcomes such a strong investment in rail manufacturing, which recognises the significant capability that exists within our industry,” Ms Wilkie said.

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