Today’s landmark announcement by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull of $220m in federal funding for the Murray Basin Freight Rail Project will mean that bulk goods such as grain will be able to flow at lower cost and more efficiently to the Port of Geelong.
As a bulk cargo port, the Port of Geelong handles grain, woodchips and steel among other products, supporting 1300 direct jobs and around 500 indirect jobs. The Port of Geelong handles more than 750 ships each year – many of these exporting grain from north-west Victoria transported to Geelong via the Murray Basin Rail network. This is a sharp increase from 500 ships in 2011.
The project involves standardising 1,000km of rail freight lines servicing the Murray Basin region in the north-west of Victoria, and an increased axle loading on these lines from 19 to 21 tonnes. Specific rail works in the Corangamite electorate will include upgrading the rail section of the broad-gauge line from Geelong (Gheringhap) to Ballarat (Warrenheip) to dual gauge, allowing more flexibility to transport bulk goods to the Port of Geelong. This builds on previous work to automate signalling, enabling 24 hour access to the rail line, as well as upgrades to the Geelong Grain Loop.
Around 2 million tonnes of grain is exported from north-west Victorian producers annually and much of this passes through the Port of Geelong. The Murray Basin Freight Rail Project will mean more bulk goods can be freighted by rail to the Port of Geelong at a more competitive cost; it’s estimated that an extra 500,000 tonnes of grain will be transported by rail per year.
This investment is a wonderful boost to the Port of Geelong and to primary producers in Corangamite and across the north west of Victoria. The Port of Geelong plays an incredibly important role in our local economy. The investment will take it from strength to strength as one of Australia’s leading bulk commodity ports.
This project will also play a vital role in supporting freight mode shift from road to rail, removing around 20,000 truck trips from our roads to the three ports of Geelong, Portland and Melbourne, improving safety for regional communities.
8 April 2016