Port Rail Shuttle: the Continuing Case for Action!

The Habitat Trust has noted the recent decision of the State Government not to expedite implementation of a Rail Shuttle between the Swanson and Appleton Docks and Inland Ports. Further, it notes that such a system is not being actively supported. The scenario of up to eight years for creating some rail system for the Port of Melbourne is inadequate in its objectives and unacceptable in its time-frame.

Habitat holds the view that all this is counter-productive to advancement of the public good. It deplores the lack of action by State and Commonwealth Governments on a matter of strategic significance. The community should, and no doubt will, hold responsible for serious dereliction of their duty of care all those at State and Commonwealth Government level who have advocated, or acquiesced in, the enactment of these decisions.

Despite this situation the Habitat Trust remains committed to advancing the public good. It will therefore continue its advocacy for implementation, and indeed development and extension, of a rail-based Primary Freight system linking the docks of the Port of Melbourne directly to Inland Ports.

In support of this approach the Habitat Trust identifies the following challenges and opportunities:

  • A Docks to Inland Ports Rail Shuttle offers the opportunity for significant improvements in Border Security through a large increase in the rate of surveillance of containers for illicit goods (drugs, armaments, threats to Australia’s biosecurity, dangerous and non-compliant products, customs, etc.)
  • The overall capacity and efficiency of the Port of Melbourne is delimited by the efficiency of the landside access system serving Melbourne, its four-state hinterland and its strategic role as a node in the National Inland Rail system.
  • There is the specific opportunity over one year to eighteen months to remove some of the heaviest Primary Freight into and out of the Port of Melbourne from the road system of Greater Melbourne.
  • The social, environmental and economic degradation resulting from the present Primary Freight system into and out of the Port of Melbourne constitute a massive, though readily removable, imposition especially, but not exclusively, on the residents and all those who operate in and through the Western Suburbs of Melbourne.
  • The funding necessary to implement a Port Rail Shuttle has already been provided by the Commonwealth and within successive State Budgets.
  • Suggestions that the West Gate Distributor and the Western Distributor projects will resolve this situation are ill-founded; they deny the reality.

Allan Rodger

Chairman, The Habitat Melbourne Trust, 11th March 2016