Labor Government Backs Full Murray Basin Rail Project

16 August 2015

The Andrews Labor Government today committed to the biggest upgrade to regional rail freight in decades – the full Murray Basin Rail Project – which will standardise and upgrade the entire Murray Basin rail network.

Premier Daniel Andrews joined Minister for Public Transport Jacinta Allan and Minister for Agriculture Jaala Pulford in Maryborough to back the $416 million Murray Basin Rail Project, which will boost the safety, capacity and reliability of freight services in Northern Victoria and better connect primary producers to the State’s major ports.

Under the Labor Government’s comprehensive plan, lines from Geelong to Mildura, Manangatang, Sea Lake and Murrayville will be standardised, and the existing unused standard gauge connection between Maryborough and Ararat will be reopened.

This will fix the missing links in our freight network and connect regional Victoria to the ports of Portland, Geelong and Melbourne, as well as improving freight connections to southern New South Wales and South Australia.

Enhanced connections to the Port of Melbourne during the 50 year lease term will provide even more certainty to the supply chain and stevedores.

Axle loading on Murray Basin freight lines will be increased to 21 tonnes, allowing larger trains to carry more product with each trip. By enabling more freight to be moved by rail, the project will increase the efficiency of the freight network, remove around 20,000 truck trips to the ports each year and keep our export industries competitive.

The Government's commitment to The Murray Basin Rail Project is in addition to the new $200 million Agriculture Infrastructure and Jobs Fund that will drive economic growth, create jobs and boost exports from paddock to port.

The Labor Government has already provided up to $220 million in the 2015-16 Victorian Budget for the project, with $5 million fast-tracked in February to get work started on critical maintenance and safety works.

Major works are expected to commence in the second half of 2016 and 270 jobs will be created during construction.

The Andrews Labor Government has written to Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss asking the Abbott Government to partner with Victoria in funding this project of critical importance to the Victorian and Australian freight network. The business case, which was also released today, has been sent to Infrastructure Australia for their assessment.

Quotes attributable to Premier Daniel Andrews

“The Andrews Labor Government is committed to the full Murray Basin Rail Project, which will boost the safety, capacity and reliability of freight services and better connect primary producers to the State’s major ports.”

“This is good for farmers, their families and our economy, and we’re calling on the Abbott Government to step up and contribute to this critical project.”

Quotes attributable to the Minister for Public Transport and Employment Jacinta Allan

“Standardising the Murray Basin rail network, and increasing the loads it can carry, will allow primary producers to get more produce to port, more efficiently – boosting jobs and the regional economy.”

Quotes attributable to the Minister for Agriculture Jaala Pulford

“Food and fibre are the future of our economy. By supporting our farmers to get their goods to market faster, we’re boosting exports and making sure we stay ahead of the game.”

Reviewed 19 August 2020

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