AUSTRALIA’s Federal Transport Minister Warren Truss and his Victoria counterpart Peter Batchelor inaugurated work on the A$120m Dynon Port Rail Link on April 21.

The project includes replacement of the existing single-track mixed-gauge line into Melbourne docks by a double-track line further west, with overbridges to replace the Footscray Road level crossing. It is the first rail scheme to be funded from the federal government’s Auslink programme.

The Port of Melbourne currently handles 37% of Australia’s import and export traffic, and the existing single-track branch is used by an average of 18 trains per day. Batchelor said the state government wanted to see rail’s share of traffic to and from the port increase from 17% to 30% by 2010. With demand for freight movement in Australia expected to double by 2020, Truss commented that ’it is absolutely essential that rail plays a bigger role in our freight task in the future’. n