The business case for upgrading the Maroona-Portland rail line has been forwarded to the federal government.
In this year's' May federal budget, the commonwealth provided $2.2 million to the Australian Rail Track Corporation to complete the business case.
"Given this has significant commercial-in-confidence material, including commercial discussions with key stakeholders, the business case is not expected to be made publicly available at this stage," an ARTC spokesman said.
"The business case involved a market testing process with over 20 different participants, including infrastructure managers, resource and mineral sands sector and grains and rail operators.
"It has been guided by a project steering group which included the Glenelg Shire council chief executive, the Green Triangle Freight Action group chair, Port of Portland CEO, Freight Victoria and the commonwealth.
"This steering group is working with key decision makers to explore funding options."
The Maroona Portland line is a 173.3km standard gauge rail line that links the Port of Portland with the national rail network and is seen as a vital component of the regional supply chain.
The line has not been substantially upgraded since earlier this century, with the speed now dropped to 40 kilometres an hour.
Port of Portland chief executive Greg Tremewen said it was hoped the business case would be considered, as part of the May federal budget, next year.
"I think we were very pleased about being given funding for a business case, earlier in 2022, it's now been completed and has been submitted to the federal government for consideration," Mr Tremewen said.
"We are quite hopeful it will be approved, it is a significant asset for all Port of Portland customers and potential customers."
The line currently had a 19-tonne axle load and the business case recommended upgrading it to 21-TAL and 80k/ph or 23-TAL and 60kp/h.
"We certainly think the business case stacks up, so we are very hopeful," he said.
The port was keen to upgrade its railyard, pending approval of the business case.
"We have a few million dollars of work to do at our end that we would like to get done, but, of course, we don't want to spend the money until we know there is certainty around the Maroona-Portland line being upgraded," he said.
Green Triangle Freight Action Plan committee chair Glenelg councillor Karen Stephens said western Victoria produced grain, mineral sands and plantation timber.
"It's one of the state's export powerhouses and with the increase global demand for these commodities there is a clear growth opportunity for the region to increase jobs, so we need to be on the front foot and ensure that our rail network provides to best outcomes for freight movements across the entire region," Cr Stephens said.
"We need to fully utilise the available freight rail infrastructure to increase its efficiencies and competitiveness to export markets and this will require an upgrade to 23TALm" Cr Stephens said.
"The need to shift the freight task from road to rail is paramount to provide better community safety and reduce the road maintenance task."
Rail Futures Institute president John Hearsch said he believed the upgrade would cost between $100-150 million.
"We are cautiously optimistic that the upgrade will be approved," he said.
"If so, my guess is that it will be either in the May 2023 Federal Budget or treated as off-budget by means of an equity injection into ARTC."