The Labor Government has announced that work has started on the Murray Basin Rail Project, which will standardise rail freight services in Northern Victoria and allow larger trains to carry more product with each trip.
On making the announcement in Mildura on Tuesday, Premier Daniel Andrews – joined by Minister for Public Transport, Jacinta Allan, and Minister for Regional Development, Jaala Pulford – said the Government will provide $30 million for Stage 1 of the project and fast-track $5 million into this financial year to conduct pre-construction safety and maintenance works.
He said the rail project will increase the capacity and reliability of the Mildura rail and make tail freight more cost-effective, supporting primary producers, families and communities in northern Victoria.
“The previous Coalition Government neglected regional rail. As a result, the deteriorating network is increasing the cost of business for producers, with trains on the Mildura rail line slowing to a crawl to avoid derailing,” he said in a statement.
“Fixing the rail line will make the rail freight network safer and more efficient, help our export industries stay competitive and support producers, families and communities in northern Victoria.”
According to him, the business case was being finalised and would provide options for how best to progress the next stages of the project.
Minister for Public Transport, Jacinta Allan, said the project would revitalise the industry and provide it with a much needed boost.
“By fixing this ramshackle rail line, we’re helping some of our biggest industries stay competitive.”
Minister for Regional Development, Jaala Pulford, said the Murray Basin Rail Project would stimulate further development in the region.
“The Labor Government is getting straight to work, supporting jobs and growth in regional Victoria.”
Around 3.5 million tonnes of grain is produced in the region every year, worth $2 billion to Victoria in export value. Mineral sands and intermodal containers are also exported at a value of $1 billion and $500 million respectively.