Swan Hill Rural City Council has called on State Government to confirm its commitment to standardising the Manangatang rail line.
Raising the issue with Councillors at yesterday’s Council Meeting, Cr Les McPhee said it was essential that the Manangatang rail line be standardised to ensure our region remained competitive.
“This region needs a standard gauge rail system for the efficient movement of freight. The line needs to deliver a minimum speed of 80 kilometres an hour and take axle loads of 21 tonne, so that our farmers can remain competitive,” he said.
“We have got to keep pushing the Government to make sure they standardise the rail all the way through, that they complete this project.”
Council will also urge the State Government to re-consider its proposed work on the line further south, changes that Cr McPhee said could jeopardise the effectiveness of the Murray Basin Rail Project.
“We support the State Government’s investment into the project, but the Government must re-consider its plans for dual gauge on the Ballarat to Maryborough section,” he said.
“This would result in inefficient speed limits of 80kmh, and once complete, would mean less incentive for the standardisation of the Manangatang line,” he said.
“If the Manangatang line remains broad gauge, freight on that line will not have access to all three ports, reducing competition and ultimately having a negative impact on the bottom line for our farmers and our region’s economy.”
In his motion to Councillors, Cr McPhee said that if it was delivered as first envisaged, the Murray Basin Rail Project would provide local farmers with efficient access to the ports of Melbourne, Geelong and Portland.
Council will now write to Transport Infrastructure Minister Jacinta Allan about the issue and will request a meeting with her discuss concerns about the delivery of the project.