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There is a strong business case to reopen the Mount Gambier to Heywood railway line, according to the Port of Portland.
The authority was responding yesterday to news the Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) had acquired the Portland-Maroona line, which Pacific National shut down earlier this year.
ARTC is a wholly Federal Government owned corporation.
The Victorian Government will spend $15m upgrading the track to a level that trains can travel at 80kmh. ARTC has signed a 50-year lease to manage the line and will start upgrading it within months.
The port authority welcomed the announcement as part of a strategy to enhance rail services in Victoria and South Australia.
“The move is in line with our submission to the Tim Fischer led Rail Freight Network Review and an action item in the Port of Portland Port Land Use Strategy,” the port’s chief executive Scott Paterson said.
“The ARTC is a natural owner of this important infrastructure link to the Port.
“It specialises in operating rail lines and will invest in upgrading this line.”
Mr Paterson said this was an important first step towards revitalising rail services in Western Victoria and South Australia.
“This line links up with the Melbourne-Adelaide line, so it is integral to state and interstate services,” Mr Paterson said.
“It is also used by Graincorp to transport grains destined for export markets.
“As this line includes Heywood, there is now a strong business case for reopening the Heywood-Mount Gambier standard gauge line.
“If this line was to be reopened, it would support rail transport of a far greater proportion of woodchips sent to Portland from the Green Triangle Region.
“The Victorian Government’s desire is to see rail increase its market share of freight transported to ports to 30pc.
“We believe the ARTC taking over the Portland-Maroona line will certainly assist and the reopening of the Heywood-Mount Gambier line would be a very significant boost for rail.”
ARTC chief executive David Marchant said reopening the Mount Gambier to Heywood line would be a positive move.
“ARTC would welcome such a development, however this would be a matter for the SA and Victorian governments,” Mr Marchant said.
The Border Watch
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