A NEW $10 million rail passing loop near Colac has boosted prospects of a fresh industrial investment boom and more train services in south-west Victoria.
The 1200-metre rail passing siding at Warncoort, which opened last month, and an existing shorter crossing loop at Camperdown allows trains to pass safely rather than long waiting delays.
It gives potential for freight trains up to a kilometre long to use the route from Warrnambool directly into the port of Melbourne and for at least one extra passenger service.
According to Warrnambool-based Westvic Container Export managing director Warrick Loft there has been renewed interest from investors and local councils in capitalising on the rail freight potential.
“It certainly has increased the scope for attracting new industries into the region,” he said. “When the region is promoted, people should be made more aware of the rail links which enable exports to go straight to the wharf.”
Westvic runs freight trains five nights a week from Warrnambool carrying mainly dairy products and meat.
Mr Loft is confident volumes will increase as the peak dairy output season kicks in during spring.
In recent months, several Australian and international companies have indicated interest in building dairy processing plants in south-west Victoria to meet expanding consumer demand in Asia.
Transport Minister Terry Mulder said the Warncoort crossing loop along with a government incentive scheme for rail containers helped make the Princes Highway safer by taking some B-double trucks off the road. “The weeknight freight train helps to keep south-west Victorian farmers and exporters competitive with the world,” he said.
Mr Mulder said the extra passing loop should give V/Line flexibility to run at least one extra passenger train, subject to demand, rolling stock and funding.
“The best way that south-west Victorians can demonstrate demand for more trains on the Warrnambool line is to patronise the existing V/Line trains,” he said.