Agriculture | November 10, 2021

Kealy: Labor has destroyed rail freight

Labor’s failure to manage infrastructure projects has claimed another casualty, with the speed limit on the Maroona-Portland rail freight line being halved from 80km/h to 40km/h due to the track’s poor condition.

The Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC), which leases the 170-kilometre rail freight line from the Victorian Government, has made the decision to reduce the speed limit due to the unsatisfactory condition of the rail line.

The Nationals Member for Lowan Emma Kealy said this was yet another example of Labor destroying the rail freight industry.

“With an above average-grain harvest approaching, halving the speed limit for all trains on the Maroona-Portland rail freight line could not have come at a worse time,” she said.

“The decision by ARTC has added two hours to the journey time of all trains travelling to and from Portland, incurring extra crew costs for rail operators.

“A third locomotive is now also required on most trains as the slow speed means there is insufficient momentum to lift trains over a number of uphill gradients on the line.

“These inefficiencies and cost increases will inevitably force more grain onto road transport, resulting in increased damage to our regional roads and exposing all road users to increased safety risks.”

Ms Kealy said she was also aware of two potential new rail freight developments that would be forced to consider A-double road truck transport instead of rail freight because the 40km/h line speed would make rail totally uncompetitive.

These developments include a new mineral sands project near Horsham, which is anticipating transporting approximately 1 million tonnes of mineral sands to Portland each year for export.

“It is staggering that under the Andrews Labor Government, only 7 per cent of Victoria’s infrastructure budget is spent in regional Victoria,” Ms Kealy said.

“Labor has no interest in regional Victoria and, coupled with its inability to manage infrastructure projects, this is destroying our rail freight industry and our regional road network.

“I am calling on the Andrews Labor Government to provide the funding required to restore the 80km/h speed limit on the Maroona-Portland line to make it a competitive freight transport option for regional businesses and industry.”

Created with NationBuilder