Monday, June 24, 2024

Horsham asks Premier Andrews to honour rail commitment

Horsham Rural City Council has resolved to write to Victorian Premier, Daniel Andrews to express concern over the Murray Basin Freight Rail Project (MBFRP) and request that the government honour its commitment to complete the upgrade to its original scope.

Council says the MBFRP was intended to upgrade much of the broad gauge rail network in northern Victoria to standard gauge to enable a common rail gauge through to Victoria’s ports.

One of the outcomes of the MBFRP will be reduced truck traffic along the Henty Highway to the Port of Portland, which currently contributes to truck congestion and road damage through Horsham and the Wimmera.

At its meeting this week, Council backed a request from the Rail Freight Alliance (RFA), of which HRCC is a member, to join a statewide call to get the project back on track ahead of the Victoria election.

The original $440 million project was due to be completed by the end of 2018 and aimed to standardise 1,130 kilometres of the western Victorian rail network, increase speeds to 80kmh, increase train axle loads from 19 to 21 tonnes, increase efficiency by 15% and remove about 20,000 truck trips from roads.

However Councillors were told only two of the four lines have been standardised, the connection between Maryborough and Ballarat has not been addressed, and speed limits on some sections are as low as 25 km/h and 40 km/h.

The combined result of these is that the rail network is less efficient than before the Victorian Government’s upgrades started, said Mayor, Robyn Gulline.

She said finishing the MBFRP was crucial for the Wimmera in several ways.

“It would see a drastic reduction in the amount of trucks travelling to the port from the Wimmera, both now and especially in the future.”

“So many of these trucks currently travel right through the heart of Horsham, reducing the amenity of our city placing costly strain on our key regional roads such as the Henty Highway. Reducing the amount of trucks will also have a positive impact on carbon emissions,” Mayor Gulline said.

Latest Articles