Mildura Rural City Council has thrown its support behind the Rail Freight Alliance’s (RFA) Save Our Tracks campaign and its push to see the Murray Darling Rail Project (MBRP) completed to its original scope.
Council’s support for the campaign, which also calls for the MBRP to remain in State ownership and control, follows revelations in June this year by Victorian Minister for Transport Infrastructure Jacinta Allan that the project was out of funds.
The Rail Freight Alliance said Ms Allan indicated at the time that she would negotiate further funding with the Federal Government.
The Alliance also said there were reports that as part of any funding negotiations, Victorian Government standard-gauge lines would be leased to the Australian Rail Track Corporation, a move the Alliance stresses cannot be allowed to happen given the critical importance of Victoria retaining control of its rail network.
Mildura Mayor Simon Clemence said that Victorian freight volumes were predicted to more than double by 2050, making the shift to rail freight critical.
“Freight is vitally important for our region, driving economic growth, creating jobs and providing a major boost to the transport industry, agriculture sector and our communities,” Cr Clemence said.
“The cost of moving goods is a substantial component of the overall cost of production for many industries, and our large horticulture and grain industries are a perfect example of this – accounting for up to 30 per cent of costs.
“Rail is a cost-effective freight option, which also helps keep heavy traffic off our roads. Victoria must get the investment right.”
Cr Clemence said it was disappointing that Councils had been forced to fight to ensure a project that had been promised is delivered.