Melbourne's sustainable freight future under threat

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The future of a funded plan to shift freight onto rail and take 3500 trucks off local streets could be derailed as a result of Transurban's proposed Western Distributor tollway – new designs released last week reveal.

The $5.5 billion tollway and tunnel, which according to Transurban is designed to take trucks off roads, would instead cut across the existing rail access to Swanson Dock, making it near impossible to run a viable freight on rail network.
 
"Melbourne stands poised to finally shift a proportion of its freight onto rail, but this opportunity would be lost if Transurban is allowed to place on and off ramps right where rail connections would need to go." said Berish Bilander, spokesman for Public Transport Not Traffic.
 
Currently 100% of Melbourne's Metropolitan imports and exports are moved on road by trucks, but a fully funded plan exists to shift some of this load onto rail: 

The metropolitan freight on rail plan involves reviving a disused rail line to the Port of Melbourne docks that runs parallel to Footscray Road, and building three short rail spurs to freight terminals in Altona, Somerton and Dandenong South. It would enable trains to shift goods between the port and freight hubs in the suburbs.[*] 

With diesel pollutants from trucks threatening our suburbs and Sydney's Port Botany set to overtake Melbourne's as the number 1 port, the Andrews Government has a unique opportunity to make our freight industry both more sustainable and future proof.
 
"To start to fix our port congestion and pollution issues, we don’t need to wait for a toll road, a ready-to-go rail plan already exists" said Mr Bilander.
 
"From both an economic and environmental perspective, Melbourne's over-reliance on trucks is down right dangerous.
 
"Communities across Melbourne are being exposed to harmful diesel particulates every day while trucks stay locked in commuter traffic. A durable solution to this is Metro Freight on Rail.

"Major ports across Australia and the world are committing to shifting freight from trucks to rail. Premier Andrews can't allow a toll road ramp to cut off Melbourne's port rail access.
 
"Fortunately, the funds are in place for Metropolitan Freight on Rail so all that's needed is the green light from our Premier.' Mr Bilander concluded. 

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* http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/labor-puts-brakes-on-port-rail-project-that-would-take-3500-trucks-off-road-20150916-gjo7c3#ixzz3n6Fq4NvN

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