The state government is hailing the $5 million Rail Freight Support Package, which will continue in 2011/12, as a big win for rural residents.
Public Transport Minister Terry Mulder said residents would see fewer large trucks on single lane each-way roads such as parts of the Calder, Goulburn Valley, Princes and Western Highways.
“Victorian and southern NSW farmers and a wide range of country manufacturers or other businesses will also benefit from rail’s lower transport costs. There are many economic, social and environmental benefits from rail freight.
Mr Mulder said it was vital Victoria’s agricultural and manufacturing sectors have access to the lowest possible freight costs.
''The Port of Melbourne is Australia’s largest container port. The government wants to ensure that this remains the case.”
Transport operators have welcomed the announcement as one that would help to keep rail freight affordable and lower costs for farmers.
Mr Mulder said that the Rail Freight Support Package kept freight on rail and off Victoria’s roads.
“Victoria’s broad or standard gauge freight trains haul containers from Horsham, Merbein, Mooroopna and Warrnambool as well as Tocumwal in NSW. The Victorian Government wants to work in partnership with container terminal operators such as Wimmera Container Terminal at Horsham (who will move to Dooen), Wakefield’s at Merbein, Gray’s at Tocumwal and Wettenhall’s at Warrnambool who shift about 35,000 containers each year in total by rail”, Mr Mulder said.
“The government’s aim is to increase the amount of freight carried by rail in Victoria. Retention of the Rail Freight Support Package is one step along that journey,” Mr Mulder said.