The Coalition Government's reopening of the Dimboola to Rainbow line with the first grain train meant that up to 100,000 extra tonnes of Victorian grain would move annually by rail, Parliamentary Secretary for Transport Edward O'Donohue said today.
Mr O'Donohue represented Minister for Public Transport Terry Mulder at Rainbow joined by Parliamentary Secretary for Regional and Rural Development Damian Drum, representing Deputy Premier Peter Ryan.
Mr O'Donohue said that it was exciting to watch the first Pacific National grain train depart.
"Under the previous government, the line faced closure. The Coalition Government has worked through the Department of Transport, V/Line and Regional Development Victoria to partner with Graincorp," Mr O'Donohue said.
"Our objectives have been to lower graingrowers' costs, take heavy trucks off roads not built for them and show what can be achieved when the Coalition Government and private sector work together.
"V/Line's works have seen the reopening of 66 kilometres of track from Dimboola to Rainbow. This was challenging because parts of the line were hit hard by flooding. The Rainbow line's condition had deteriorated in the last few years. V/Line's rejuvenation allows regular grain trains to operate."
The $8.3 million Yaapeet line grain development project was a collaborative effort in which GrainCorp invested $3 million, with $1 million going towards trackwork and $2 million to upgrade grain receival facilities at Rainbow to a 'super site'.
"This significant upgrade will increase efficiency by enabling a faster turnaround for trucks bringing grain from local farms and more efficient loading of grain trains. Apart from Rainbow, grain trains will be able to load at Jeparit and Antwerp," Mr O'Donohue said.
The Department of Transport contributed $3.6 million with Regional Development Victoria contributing $1.7 million to the total cost of $6.3 million to upgrade the track to 'Silver line' status.
The Dimboola to Rainbow line rejuvenation replaced 33,000 sleepers, distributed 20,000 tonnes of ballast, included substantial flood damage rectification and the repair of sidings at Antwerp, Jeparit and Rainbow. Three level crossings were reconditioned.
Mr Drum said that the reopened Rainbow line contributed to the Coaliiton Government's vision for regional development
"In the last two years Victoria has experienced record grain volumes with a total grain task of 7.1 million tonnes in 2010-11 and 6.2 million tonnes in 2011-12. This has increased pressure on the grain supply chain, particularly for exports from the state's north and west. It is now more important than ever to invest in modern infrastructure," Mr Drum said.
"Rail is an efficient way of moving grain and a vital part of the Victorian economy. Investing in our rail infrastructure is an investment for country Victoria and for the future."