Government announces rail freight assessment

Government announces rail freight assessment

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The government has set up a working group to assess the state's rail freight network.

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The government has formed a working group to assess the state's rail freight network but one transporter says for it to be successful, it needs to hear the thoughts of those on the ground.

The Rail Freight Working Group was announced by Ports and Freight Minister Melissa Horne and Transport Infrastructure Minister Jacinta Allan, which will bring together members of the freight and primary industries, as well as government agencies, to focus on Victoria's rail freight network priorities.

Working group members will include Victoria's Rural Assistance Commissioner Peter Tuohey, who will chair the group, and representatives from the Victorian Farmers Federation, key freight organisations and government bodies including the Department of Transport, VicTrack, V/Line and relevant ports.

But Livestock and Rural Transporters of Victoria president John Beer said the real question that needed to be asked was why grassroots farmers didn't want to use the rail freight network.

"They've got the wrong people doing this stuff," Mr Beer said.

"They should be asking more grassroots people to be [in the working group] and ask them the hard questions, like why they don't want to use rail, there's got to be a reason."

And he said he had an inkling what the biggest reason was.

"There's a lack of investment, the lines are buggered," he said.

Ms Horne said the new group would give operators and farmers a voice at the table.

"Our working group will look at the entire freight supply chain, from farm to port, and make it easier for producers to get Victorian goods to the world," she said.

Mr Tuohey said the aim of the working group was to get the whole of industry involved in trying to improve the functionality and efficiency of Victoria's rail network.

"We'll be looking at the standardisation of the Sea Lake and Manangatang lines, and also trying to look at ways to increase rail speed times and load efficiencies in the network," he said.

He said he was fairly confident both ministers would listen to the working group and make decisions accordingly, "as long as there's money for it".

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