The Victorian Transport Association has welcomed progress on the Port Rail Transformation Project at the Port of Melbourne following the Victorian Government’s announcement of the $125 million next stage of works.
Under the package unveiled by Victorian ports and freight minister Melissa Horne, a new Coode Road on-dock rail terminal connecting with the Swanson Dock East International Container Terminal will be constructed, including two new rail sidings that can each accommodate freight trains.
A new road will also be built to allow better movement of shipping containers and provide an east-west link within the Swanson Dock precinct so trucks will no longer need to exit to Footscray Road.
Other works include improvements to the Swanson common user rail sidings to cater for 600m freight trains and a new rail connection linking the Swanson and Appleton lead tracks, allowing greater flexibility for trains to move within the port precinct.
“The government is to be commended for seeing through its commitments to improve rail freight connections within the Port of Melbourne precinct, which will create greater efficiencies and productivity gains for road, rail and sea freight operators,” said VTA CEO Peter Anderson.
“This project is not about reducing the work load for road freight operators; it’s about creating a more efficient intermodal transport system that has benefits for operators right throughout the supply chain.
“Every investment that creates opportunities to increase our freight capacity means more work for road freight operators because as I’ve always said, ships, planes and trains carry freight but only trucks can deliver. The port rail project will free up road freight operators to take on work that has better margins, and at the same time reduce congestion at the port gate for heavy vehicles moving in and out of the precinct.”
Construction crews have prepared underground services and drainage, along with foundation works for the new rail tracks and associated rail infrastructure. On completion, the project will result in major rail supply-chain efficiencies benefiting producers, transport operators and exporters servicing the Port of Melbourne.
On-dock rail is part of the Victorian and Commonwealth governments’ $58 million Port Rail Shuttle Network (PRSN) which will provide direct rail connections from the Port of Melbourne to major freight hubs in Melbourne’s north, west and south-east.
The project is scheduled for completion in mid-2023.
In her welcome message for the MEGATRANS2022 event in Melbourne on August 24-26, Horne told Big Rigs that the state’s freight plan also recognises that road transport will continue to be the dominant mode of freight delivery, and the sole mode for the last kilometre.
“That’s why Victoria has been at the forefront of reforms that have boosted heavy vehicle productivity like in-principle approval of Performance Based Standards (PBS) vehicles and the use of reference designs and pre-approved networks to simplify the process of getting a permit,” said Horne.
“As well as expanding access to the existing road network, Victoria is also adding capacity – 36 kilometres of new lanes were recently added on the Monash and Princes Freeways in Melbourne’s south-east.”