About Victoria's rail freight network
The Victorian Government is committed to growing rail’s share of the freight task.
The Victorian freight plan, Delivering the Goods, prioritises greater use of the state’s rail freight assets.
Across Victoria, our freight network relies on both road and rail connections. We’re investing in works to move more freight from road to rail, particularly long-haul freight where rail is superior.
Victoria generates more economic growth and more jobs from freight than any other state. Freight is the economic engine for much of regional Victoria.
That's why better freight connections are essential to the success of Victorian businesses and primary producers and, ultimately, to job creation across all parts of our economy.
And it's why projects are underway across Victoria to move freight more efficiently, including projects like regional rail upgrades, the Port Rail Transformation Project, North East Link, the West Gate Tunnel, the Port Rail Shuttle Network, and planning for a new interstate rail freight terminal.
An increase in Victoria’s gross product by $40 billion over the next three decades will see freight volumes more than double.
Victoria’s plan to meet this challenge is contained in the Victorian freight plan, Delivering the Goods.
To better understand how Victoria’s road, rail and intermodal assets interact to move freight efficiently, watch the video below.
$181 million to deliver capital upgrades to the regional rail network
The 2022-23 Victorian Budget contains a massive investment in freight rail that brings Victoria closer than any other state to delivering a gold-class rail freight network tailored to the fast and efficient movement of exports to port.
An $181 million investment will boost the capacity of a number of freight-only lines so that we can increase the volume, mass and speed of freight carried per train. The work will include:
- Rail replacement on high-use trunk lines
- New rail-joint works and/or welding to remove stress points at rail ends
- Extra ballast to lift lines to the required ballast depth to distribute heavier loads
- Assessment and upgrade of culverts and bridges to withstand higher loads
An 800-metre-long grain train can transport 2000 tonnes of grain, equal to 50 B-double trucks. Lifting axle loads from 19 to 21 tonnes will allow trains of an equivalent length to carry 3000 tonnes of grain.
$83 million investment as part of our COVID-19 stimulus package
That investment reduced the number of temporary speed restrictions to its lowest level since the database commenced in 2005.
Big Build: regional rail freight upgrades
Works have included track and signalling upgrades, as well as reopening and standardisation of the Ararat-Maryborough line, and standardisation of the Maryborough-Mildura and Ouyen-Murrayville lines.
Standardisation brings the gauge of the track into line with the national standard, delivering greater competition among rail operators and boosting efficiency in the use of rolling stock.
Works underway or in delivery include a further track upgrade of the Ararat-Maryborough line, a new siding at Donald, upgraded sidings at Yelta and extensions to passing loops.
Mode Shift Incentive Scheme
The MSIS helps rail freight operators compete with road freight and allows exporters to get their goods to port sooner.
Terminals at Dooen, Mildura, Tocumwal and Warrnambool participate in the scheme, which supports more than 170 freight industry jobs and removes up to 28,000 truck trips from Victorian roads every year.
The 2022-23 Victorian Budget invests a further $3.5 million to extend the MSIS.
North Geelong C signal box automation
Removing manual signalling has improved safety, increased rail access into the Port and allowed more trains per day to unload.
Automation allows two trains to enter the loop simultaneously and means operations can be controlled remotely from the 24-hour Train Control Centre in Melbourne, permitting around-the-clock operations.
Freight operators and grain companies can save costs on train-crew rostering and reduced turnaround times between silo and port, in turn reducing costs to exporters and improving the competitiveness of Victoria’s grain for overseas markets.
More rail freight service from East Gippsland
On 18 May, rail freight returned to Bairnsdale for the first time since 2009 when a test train arrived at the Fenning Intermodal Freight Terminal (FIFT).
When regular services begin, it’s expected that three freight trains per week will transport more than 10,000 containers every year to the Port of Melbourne by rail, removing more than 6000 truck trips from regional roads and delivering long-term benefits to the Gippsland economy.
Significant development at the terminal is planned, including an increase in warehouse capacity and storage facilities.
Port Rail Shuttle Network
By reducing truck numbers on roads, alleviating congestion around the inner city and making rail freight cheaper, the Port Rail Shuttle Network (PRSN) is an opportunity to make a real difference to how short-haul rail freight moves around metropolitan Melbourne.
A $58 million government initiative, including $38 million from the Australian Government and $20 million from the Victorian Government, will see public land leveraged to encourage investment from the private sector in new rail connections and terminals.
The PRSN will deliver an efficient and cost-effective alternative to road transport for the 87 per cent of import containers that travel to destinations less than 50 kilometres from the port gate.
This will see trucks deliver or pick up containers from outer metropolitan rail terminals at Somerton, Dandenong South and Altona instead of traversing the city to the port.
Grants have been allocated to Austrak, Salta and SCT Logistics to connect their terminals to the existing rail network.
Construction works have commenced at Dandenong South and Altona. It’s anticipated these new rail connections will enable port rail shuttles to progressively commence running from 2022.
By 2050, the PRSN is expected to move 30 per cent of Melbourne’s containers by rail, avoiding millions of truck trips each year.
Port Rail Transformation Project
Funded by port revenue, the $125 million Port Rail Transformation Project will increase the competitiveness of rail freight by cutting the cost of last-mile travel and reducing truck congestion at the port gate.
Major works in the Swanson Dock precinct are in progress. Completion of the on-dock rail facilities in the Swanson Dock precinct is scheduled for 2023.
Rail network planning
New intermodal freight precincts
We’re planning to deliver new intermodal freight precincts at Truganina in Melbourne’s west and Beveridge in Melbourne’s outer north to service the state’s growing freight and logistics sector.
The role of the new precincts will be primarily to handle interstate freight, but also the import and export container trade.
A joint Australian and Victorian governments investment case for the preferred location of a new intermodal freight terminal to handle interstate rail freight has been completed and its findings - that a new terminal should be developed in Melbourne's west - were endorsed by the Victorian Government, which has begun planning a new intermodal terminal at Truganina.
A new terminal will also support the Inland Rail Project and supplement, and potentially replace, the existing terminal at Dynon.
Renewing the Principal Freight Network
The Principal Freight Network (PFN) has been reviewed and updated with 20 amendments following stakeholder consultation in 2020-21. The updated PFN has been incorporated into the Victorian Planning Provisions to protect key freight corridors and places.
The PFN is a strategic network of current and recognised future freight places and connecting movement corridors that are of national, state or regional significance and accommodate freight of significant quantity, value or importance.
Shepparton Rail Freight Planning Study
The Shepparton Rail Freight Planning Study is under way and aims to maximise the benefits for both freight and passenger services on the line.
The $10 million study is jointly funded by the Victorian and Commonwealth governments and includes a $9 million package of rail-freight infrastructure upgrades.
Webb Dock Freight Link
The link would connect Webb Dock with Swanson Dock via a dedicated heavy rail freight line to deliver improved land-side efficiency, meet future freight demands and reduce road congestion.
The Victorian Government is working with the Port of Melbourne and the Fishermans Bend Taskforce to identify and protect an alignment for the link.
The Victorian interstate, regional and metropolitan rail networks are owned by VicTrack and leased to the Department of Transport. The Department of Transport sub-leases sections of the network to a network manager (the access provider) which is responsible for operations, maintenance, customer service and local asset management.
The network managers are:
- Metro Trains Melbourne for the broad-gauge network in the Melbourne metropolitan area
- V/Line, for the regional broad-gauge and standard-gauge network
- Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC), for the interstate standard-gauge network, including the Maroona-Portland and Benalla-Oaklands lines.
Rail freight terminals
Rail freight terminals are largely privately leased to freight operators.
Regional container terminals operate at Dennington, Dooen, Merbein, Donald, Ultima, Tocumwal and Barnawartha.
Customer-specific container terminals are located at Deniliquin and Maryvale.
Metropolitan intermodal terminals are located at Laverton and Spotswood, and Port Rail Shuttle terminals are planned for Somerton, Altona and Dandenong South.
Major new interstate terminals at Truganina and Beveridge are being assessed to serve the ARTC Inland Rail project.
Terminals for bulk aggregates are located at Kilmore East, Brooklyn, and Westall. There are also cement terminals at Somerton and Dandenong South.
Grain trains operate from an extensive network of regional terminals to Port of Melbourne, Port of Geelong and Port of Portland and to a metropolitan terminal at Kensington.
The Port of Melbourne is a key freight hub with rail terminals at West Swanson, Appleton and Victoria docks.
The Dynon Rail Freight Terminal at North Dynon is jointly operated by VicTrack and Qube Logistics and handles interstate and intrastate freight trains.
The Melbourne Freight Terminal at South Dynon is the main interstate rail terminal and is leased to Pacific National as an open-access terminal. It also includes shared facilities for refuelling and maintenance.