Saturday, October 21, 2017
ED---Inland-Rail-Forum

Food bowl route the right track

David Lee April 13, 2017
INLAND RAIL TOPIC OF CONVERSATION… From left, Narrandera Shire Council CEO, Judy Charlton, Manager Trade and Business at Port of Melbourne Corporation, Chris Ryan, Cameron Jackson from the Ettamogah Rail Hub, Greater Shepparton City Council Mayor, Cr Dinny Adem, Greater Shepparton City Council CEO, Peter Harriott, National Trunk Rail chairman, Martin Albrecht, National Trunk Rail director, Jon Grayson and Committee for Greater Shepparton chief executive, Sam Birrell. Photo: Alicia Niglia.

INLAND RAIL TOPIC OF CONVERSATION… From left, Narrandera Shire Council CEO, Judy Charlton, Manager Trade and Business at Port of Melbourne Corporation, Chris Ryan, Cameron Jackson from the Ettamogah Rail Hub, Greater Shepparton City Council Mayor, Cr Dinny Adem, Greater Shepparton City Council CEO, Peter Harriott, National Trunk Rail chairman, Martin Albrecht, National Trunk Rail director, Jon Grayson and Committee for Greater Shepparton chief executive, Sam Birrell. Photo: Alicia Niglia.

A SHEPPARTON aligned Melbourne to Brisbane inland rail route was the topic of conversation during an inland rail forum held last week, which saw local stakeholders, members from the Port of Melbourne, the National Trunk Rail and truck operators come together to discuss the options on the table.

The currently proposed route would travel from the Port of Melbourne and head north towards Shepparton before travelling up to agricultural areas in NSW and finish at Brisbane.

Local stakeholders agreed that a ‘Food Bowl Route’ through Shepparton made the most sense, but the Australian Rail Track Corporation is suggesting to utilise existing rail track and pass the inland rail through Albury/Wagga instead.

Some wins for the Food Bowl Inland Route Alliance have included the Federal Government agreeing to market testing for private sector interest and the standardisation of parts of the existing freight line including Shepparton.

According to strongly supported suggestions, current and future volumes of agricultural commodities production in the Shepparton area needing quick transport to domestic and export market continues to outweigh the volumes to be transported on the Albury/Wagga line.

Committee for Greater Shepparton chief executive, Sam Birrell said, “I feel the forum went very well. It was a great opportunity for people to hear information about the different ideas.

“It was good to have representatives from the Ettamogah Rail Hub, Port of Melbourne and the National Trunk Rail. I found it particularly interesting the views of the managers of Ettamogah Rail Hub, who, despite their facility being on the Albury/Wagga line, have come to the conclusion that the best alignment for inland rail track from Melbourne to Brisbane is the Shepparton/Narrandera alignment.

“It’s an ongoing battle to have Shepparton included as part of the inland rail alignment. We’ve made the best presentation we can to the Federal Government.

“We’ll continue to work through channels to get our input heard and we’ll hopefully know quite soon what the decision is.”