“The Victorian Government must commit to Rail”, Cr Geoff White, Acting Chair of the Alliance of Councils for Rail Freight Development said in launching the Alliance response to the State Government’s Grain and Logistics Taskforce Report.
We believe the State Government must plan for the standardization of the broad gauge freight network in stages over the next 15 years. The Alliance also calls on the state to upgrade all level crossings and remove the speed restrictions on the Mildura line within 6 years.
“We need a plan to upgrade the freight lines classified as gold or silver to 23 tonnes axle load capacity over 10 years, the plan must also address regular maintenance of the rail network”, Cr White said.
The Alliance believes that annual Major Periodic Maintenance allocation in the state budget for the regional rail freight network should be twice the 7.5 million dollars currently allocated by the state.
The Alliance submission urges government to construct or re-construct crossing loops at Meredith and Tourello. The current situation of loaded trains being held as far back as Maryborough result in very poor grain train cycle times and ineffective use of rolling stock and infrastructure.
An accelerated program is needed to overcome Temporary Speed Restrictions placed on rail operators by upgrading crossings on the Mildura line, an allocation of $6 million per year for the next decade to overcome this problem.
The Alliance also calls upon the state government to re-open the Shepparton to Dookie line. Re-opening the line has a positive Benefit Cost Ratio of 2.09 and will remove 2000 B-double movements from roads in the Shepparton area, greatly improving safety and reducing damage to local roads.
“Port access issues including improving port turnaround times for grain are vital to the future prosperity of this state. Much has been said about the food bowl of the Victoria, my real concern is that the prosperity of this region will not be realised if government does not increase its investment in Rail in this state”, Cr Geoff White said.