Victoria moves more grains to trains

regional rail freight Grain volumes carried by trains on Victoria’s regional rail freight network increased by 95% between July and December 2023 compared to the same period in 2022 and by 57% between July 2023 to March 2024 compared to the previous year. This has resulted in an extra 500,000 tonnes of grain being transported across the state by rail – with one standard 3,000-tonne grain train carrying about AUD 1.2 million (USD 782,759) worth of produce being the equivalent of removing 70 B-bouble trucks from regional roads.

The increase is part of the state government’s AUD 4.4 billion (USD 2.87 billion) investment to encourage grain industry to shift more grain to railways for both domestic and export markets.

Minister for Ports and Freight Melissa Horne visited GrainCorp’s Geelong export terminal to see firsthand how more than AUD 181 million (USD 118 million) in government investments have made rail freight more efficient and attractive across the industry.

“Our targeted investments in our regional freight network have given our grain industry the confidence to put more of their grain on trains more often – helping to take more trucks off our roads,” Melissa Horne said.

The investment in the regional freight network has allowed heavier trains to discharge at Geelong Port through increasing axle-load capability at key grain handling sites as well as through recommissioning the Gheringhap loop near Geelong.

V/Line has already delivered axle-load capability upgrades across Piangil, Woorinen, Tocumwal, Murchison East, Elmore, Mitiamo, Charlton, and Wycheproof, with more upgrades in the pipeline.

GrainCorp has since invested in rail improvements at several of its up-country sites in Victoria, to handle larger and more modern wagons, including extending railway sidings at some terminals in partnership with V/Line to accommodate longer, heavier trains.

“GrainCorp is working closely with the Victorian Government and industry stakeholders to improve rail infrastructure in Victoria, to facilitate quicker and more efficient movement of grain from our sites to end users in domestic and export markets,” GrainCorp COO Klaus Pamminger said.

Further confidence in the regional rail freight network was demonstrated by operator Southern Shorthaul Railroad’s recent purchase of 22 new broad-gauge grain wagons, the first order for new broad-gauge grain wagons in 16 years.

In October 2022 V/Line, bulk grain handling companies, and rail freight operator Pacific National formed the Grain Rail Improvement Plan Working Group, formalising their commitment to optimise the rail freight network.

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