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Big Benefits For Portland From Murray Basin Rail Project

21 August 2015

The Andrews Labor Government’s commitment to the biggest upgrade to regional freight in decades – the full Murray Basin Rail Project – will deliver huge benefits to Portland and South West Victoria.

Premier Daniel Andrews today joined Mayor Robert Halliday and Port of Portland CEO, Jim Cooper, on a tour of the Port, which is currently isolated from the Murray Basin freight network due to its standard-gauge rail connection.

By standardising rail lines across the Murray Basin region, the $416 million project will provide the Port of Portland direct access to the Murray Basin freight network for the first time.

This will significantly increase the amount of product moved through the Port of Portland, secure the future of the Iluka’s Hamilton processing plant and enable investment in infrastructure at the Port to boost the amount of grain exported through Portland.

In total, the Port of Portland will share in up to an extra 500,000 tones of grain transported by rail per annum as a result of rail project.

More freight through Portland will support local jobs and economic growth in South Western Victoria, and drive down costs for exporters through increased competition between Victoria’s major ports in Portland, Geelong and Melbourne.

The full Murray Basin Rail Project will standardise lines from Geelong to Mildura, Manangatang, Sea Lake and Murrayville, and re-open the the existing unused standard gauge connection between Maryborough and Ararat.

The project will also increase axle loading on Murray Basin freight lines from 19 to 21 tonnes, allowing larger trains to carry more product with each trip.

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.

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.

Quotes attributable to Premier Daniel Andrews

“Our commitment to the full Murray Basin Rail Project will bring big benefits to Portland, providing direct access to North-West Victoria and New South Wales for the first time.”

“By better connecting Portland to primary producers across North Western Victoria and over the border into New South Wales, the $416 million project will boost the amount of product exported through the port, supporting jobs and driving economic growth in South Western Victoria.”

“The Abbott Government must step up and contribute to this critical project for Victorian producers.”

Reviewed 19 August 2020

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