Committee for Greater Shepparton chief executive Sam Birrell says if regional agricultural businesses are to be globally competitive into the future, they need an effective supply chain to port.
And a modern freight rail link would provide that.
A $10 million rail planning fund will look into freight needs and infrastructure required to support regional freight operations, including the Shepparton to Tocumwal line section, the News understands.
The Shepparton freight network planning project, co-funded by the Federal and Victorian governments, will review the impact increasing passenger operations between Melbourne and Shepparton will have on freight operations on the Tocumwal-Shepparton-Melbourne corridor, a Victorian Government spokesperson said.
Addressing the $10 million of funding in June, Greater Shepparton City Council chief executive Peter Harriott hoped a significant portion could be directed toward Shepparton’s passenger rail service and create a modern freight service between Shepparton and Tocumwal.
The NSW Government in October announced it was investing $500000 to complete a feasibility study and business case for the re-activation of the 180km non-operational Narrandera-Tocumwal railway line.
Mr Birrell said it had understood the importance of this and characterised freight rail as a positive solution for business and the environment in removing trucks from roads.
State Member for Northern Victoria Wendy Lovell said there was an appetite from the region’s producers for improved freight rail options.
She was interested in anything that improved the passage of the region’s produce to ports.
Victorian shadow transport minister David Davis last week said freight was important to the Goulburn Valley economy and the Opposition was prepared to look at ‘‘steps that can be taken to improve the movement of freight on rail’’.
‘‘Seeing further movement potentially from NSW through this area to the Port of Melbourne is obviously a desirable focus,’’ he said.