More freight on trains in Melbourne's north

The Australian and Victorian governments are making rail freight cheaper for businesses and taking trucks off suburban roads, thanks to a $16.2 million investment in direct rail freight between the Port of Melbourne and Somerton.

A new track connecting the main rail line with the Somerton-based Austrak freight hub will bust congestion in Melbourne’s growing northern region.

As the next step in Melbourne’s Port Rail Shuttle Network, the new dual-gauge track will reduce truck trips on suburban Melbourne roads by as much as 20,000 annually.

The new track will deliver a direct rail route from the Somerton terminal to the docks, via the Port of Melbourne’s $125 million on-dock rail project.

The link improves efficiency for major freight customers at the Somerton terminal and boosts conditions for motorists, too.

As well as the new dual-gauge track, the Austrak project will see existing tracks realigned and upgrades to rail infrastructure.

The investment will also enable sleeper replacement, installation of refrigerated container points across existing infrastructure and realignment of the existing northern rail access entrance.

The improved rail connection will unlock private sector co-investment, with Austrak se t to upgrade its terminal facilities.

Austrak has also committed to handling tens of thousands of 20-footequivalent shipping containers per annum within five years.

The upgrade is part of the Victorian Government’s work to continue supporting the Port of Melbourne, which contributes $6 billion to the Victorian economy each year and is a crucial part of the state’s supply chain.

The project is expected to be completed and operational by mid-2022.

The Australian Government has committed $10.6 million to the project and the Victorian Government is investing $5.6 million.

In partnership with the Victorian Government, the Australian Government has committed $38 million to the $58 million overall Port Rail Shuttle Network.