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Historic lease to improve rail's viability.



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20 October 2000 A155/2000

JOINT RELEASE

John Anderson Peter Bachelor

Deputy Prime Minister Minister for Transport and Regional Services Leader of the National Party

Victorian Minister for Transport

HISTORIC LEASE TO IMPROVE RAIL'S VIABILITY

The Federal Government’s "one stop shop" access objective for all interstate rail operations Australia-wide was boosted today with the signing of a lease agreement covering the interstate standard gauge lines throughout Victoria.

The Federal Minister for Transport and Regional Services, John Anderson, and the Victorian Minister for Transport, Peter Batchelor, today applauded the signing of the agreement in support of new national track management arrangements.

The 15-year agreement between the Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) and the Victorian Government paves the way for additional investment in Victoria’s mainline rail track.

The ARTC is committed to spending more than $60 million on track improvements that will enable freight trains to operate 21-tonne axle loads at speeds of up to 115 kph. By extending the length of crossing loops in Victoria to a standard 1500 metres, longer trains can run on the lines, thereby improving the competitiveness of rail transport.

Over half the money is coming from the Commonwealth Government and $22 million has been spent already. Targeted spending has reduced temporary speed restrictions on Victoria’s interstate rail network from more than 25 per cent of track to less than 2 per cent.

Mr Anderson said the ARTC had indicated its ongoing commitment to further improve the capability and attractiveness of rail by working towards an objective of 23-tonne axle load trains, operating at 80 kph.

"This will enhance the attractiveness of rail to the Victorian grain industry and other carriers of bulk commodities, as a result of improved payload capability," Mr Anderson said.

Working in conjunction with the Melbourne Port Corporation, the ARTC had already opened up access to Appleton Dock, assisting in the promotion of Melbourne Ports as a rail, shipping hub for grain and overseas containers.

Mr Batchelor said that Victorians would benefit from ownership of an improved infrastructure asset that would influence freight transfer from road to rail.

"Through its ability to provide seamless access and control across two jurisdictions, and through the creation of an improved asset capability and reliability, the ARTC investment will enhance the attractiveness of rail to current and potential customers," he said.

Until now, the ARTC managed the Victorian interstate rail track under a temporary Heads of

Agreement.

Media Contact: Paul Chamberlin: (02) 6277 7680 / (0419) 233 989

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© Commonwealth of Australia 2000 Last updated:  Friday, 20 October 2000