Horsham Rural City Council (HRCC) is urging the Victorian Government to ensure the continuation of the Mode Shift Incentive Scheme (MSIS) into the new financial year.
The MSIS subsidises transport operators to move freight from road to rail, aiming to increase efficiency and the cost-effectiveness of rail.
However its state funding is due to expire on June 30.
HRCC is a long-time advocate of the MSIS and believes it should continue until at least June 30, 2022.
Mayor Mark Radford wrote to the Minister for Ports and Freight Mellissa Horne this week to reiterate the scheme’s importance to the Wimmera Intermodal Freight Terminal (WIFT) at Dooen.
“It is vitally important to several regional intermodal operators including Wimmera Container Line,” Cr Radford said.
“Now that the release date for the Victorian Budget is after June 30, our Council stresses the importance of the continuation of the MSIS,” he said.
Horsham grain and hay exporter Johnson Asahi recently switched from rail to road, for the next three years, because of the uncertainty of MSIS’s future.
It operates out of the WIFT, delivering about 70 containers a week to Melbourne.
“This example underlines the need to make rail transport affordable for our exporters,” Cr Radford said.
Cr Radford said the transport of containerised exports by rail, instead of by road where practical, benefited society in many ways.
“The scheme has been very successful over many years to encourage the transfer of freight from road to rail, reducing congestion and improving safety for all road users,” Cr Radford said.
“Over long distances, trains burn less fuel and carry far higher volumes than road transport. A single 1800-metre, double-stacked train carries the equivalent load of 108 B-double semi-trailers on a single journey.
“The beneficiaries of this scheme go far beyond the intermodal terminal operators.”