The Victorian Government has been asked to immediately upgrade the Portland-Maroona rail line as a matter of urgency.
Member for Western Victoria, Simon Ramsay, made the request in the Victorian Parliament to the Minister for Regional Development, Jaala Pulford.
“The Port of Portland has been long advocating for the upgrade of the Portland Maroona rail line to a standard of the Murray Basin Rail Project.
“As it is already a standard gauge line – it only requires the upgrading of sleepers to enable faster speeds and heavier loads. This is estimated to cost $24.5 million,” Mr Ramsay said.
Mr Ramsay said the upgrade is vital.
“I was very disappointed when the Andrews Government didn’t include it as part of the Murray Basin Rail Project.
“At just $24.5 million – the cost is dwarfed by the $440 million being spent on the Murray Basin upgrade and the benefits are just as real.
“I have been advised by the Port of Portland that it is near capacity due to the rapid growth rate of product through the port over the past five years.
“Logs and wood chips have driven this growth. But increased tonnages of grain and mineral sands are also driving growth and this is expected to continue.
“With Hamilton being a potential road-rail hub, it is important that the government includes the upgrade of this rail link – that travels through Hamilton to the port – as part of the Murray Basin project.
The Portland-Maroona line is an ARTC (Australian Rail Track Corporation) line, part of the national rail grid. Previously promised upgrades have failed to eventuate.
“The upgrade will provide significant productivity and efficiency returns. Importantly, it will get trucks off the deteriorated road network – something locals are too familiar with.
“It will make it safer for the community, create transport efficiencies, be better for the environment, and enable the port – and its service industries – to grow.
“It is almost what you would call a ‘no-brainer’.
“I urge the Minister to commit to this rail investment as part of the Murray Basin Rail Project – and ask that she do so as quickly as possible,” Mr Ramsay said.