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MILDURA Council will this week consider seeking commitments from both the Victorian Government and Opposition to complete the stalled Murray Basin Rail Project.
Councillor Glenn Milne, who is also chair of the Rail Freight Alliance representing rural, regional and metropolitan municipalities in Victoria, has confirmed he will table a notice of motion at this week's meeting seeking bipartisan support for the project.
Cr Milne will ask council to consider writing to Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews and Opposition leader Matthew Guy to express the community's "extreme concern" about the status of the project.
The original $440 million project was due to be completed by the end of 2018 and aimed to standardise 1130 kilometres of the western Victorian rail network, increase speeds to 80kmh, increase train axle loading from 19 to 21 tonnes, increase efficiency by 15 per cent and remove about 20,000 truck trips from roads.
However, councillors will be told that three of five stages of the project have not started and stage 2, which includes the standardisation and upgrade works on the Mildura to Dunolly and Murrayville to Ouyen lines, remains incomplete.
Cr Milne's notice of motion says freight trains from north-west Victoria were now taking more than three times longer to reach ports at Melbourne and Geelong and, as a consequence, more of the freight task was being delivered by road.
In February 2020, the Victorian Auditor General completed an investigation into the MBRP which found a "considerable" injection of new funds would be needed to complete the project.
Cr Milne said an additional $244 million, including $195.2 million from the Federal Government, had been allocated to complete the second stage of the project as well as some maintenance works.
This article first appeared on www.sunraysiadaily.com.au
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