An elected Liberal Nationals Government has pledged to get freight off the roads and onto rail in the Portland area.
The coalition has promised to provide $200,000 toward the Portland Freight Movement Study, which will be delivered in partnership with Glenelg Shire Council.
Opposition spokesman for Regional Victoria and Decentralisation Peter Walsh said the study would build on work already done, assessing options to make better use of existing rail connections while looking at how to better link the region with Victoria’s other major ports.
“This is an investment in the future growth of Portland,” Mr Walsh said.
“Taking trucks off our roads and putting more freight on rail will boost road safety and provide significant economic benefits, opening opportunities to seize on new and growing export markets, particularly with cross border operations.
“We need to further explore freight movement opportunities through Portland making better use of rail connections, helping boost the Port of Portland, growing local jobs and the regional economy.”
The coalition says there’s about 158,000 truck trips in the Portland region each year, up from 145,000 in 2015.
Liberal candidate for South West Coast, Roma Britnell, said the south-west regional economy was driven by the agricultural and timber industries.
She said further investigation of freight movements would help develop opportunities to get products to Melbourne more efficiently and cost effectively by rail, while better connecting the Port of Portland.
“Containerised products currently have to be trucked onto the Port of Melbourne,” Ms Britnell said.
“We need to explore a better way for producers get their produce to market. It is important we get a complete picture of the opportunities and how it could be achieved, to better connect our local producers with exporters in international markets.
“We need to improve freight movement efficiencies, to help support existing jobs and create new ones by growing investment and business opportunities. This study will help identify and capitalise on those opportunities.”