While population growth slowed in Victoria during the COVID-19 pandemic the state still exhibits the strongest growth rate of all Australian states. As Australia’s economy bounces back, Victoria will be a key driver of economic growth and employment.
With the availability of Inland Rail’s fast, cost-competitive and reliable freight transport the regions and industries of Victoria have the potential for growth. Sectors such as agriculture, tourism, energy and freight are well positioned to benefit from Inland Rail’s service offering of a 24 hour transit time and connectivity to the broader national network of roads and rail.
In rural Victoria, agriculture is the dominant industry, however Victoria is also rich in diverse natural resources that present significant opportunities for further economic development.
Freight and logistics contribute to the regional economy as an established industry and support the region’s renowned manufacturing, agricultural, forestry, fishing, and horticulture sectors.
Transport infrastructure, such and Inland Rail, is a key enabler of Victoria’s economic growth and potential. Victoria already has a well-established road and rail freight infrastructure in regional areas. Improving access for high-productivity vehicles and supporting heavier freight rail operations could support the development of additional mining and renewable energy resource activities.
When considering these strong infrastructure foundations, interconnectivity with markets and ongoing plans for development, Victoria is in a strong position to capitalise and expand on the opportunities presented by Inland Rail.
- The major freight generators within 100km west and 50km east of the Inland Rail alignment are construction and manufacturing, which account for a combined 17% or $55.3 billion of gross value for those regions in Victoria.
- Since 2015, Victoria has seen year on year growth in the agriculture, manufacturing and construction sectors, all of which have potential to generate freight demand for Inland Rail and attract and boost investments along the rail corridor.
- The Inland Rail region in Victoria transports a total 704 million tonnes of freight to and from the area each year – that’s the equivalent of 24.2 million B-double trucks.
- There are potential investment opportunities in expanding freight hubs, timber and paper manufacturing, food processing and defence manufacturing over the short, medium and long term.
An enduring boost for Victoria
In addition to the direct economic benefits identified by ARTC in 2020, the EY Inland Rail Regional Opportunities report identified that Inland Rail can further boost gross regional product (GRP) by up to $4.6 billion over the first 50 years of the rail line’s operation.
The report also identified that Inland Rail could provide up to an additional 940 full time jobs in its 10th year of operation and add up to $600 million to gross regional product.
A technical report is also available with a detailed summary of the research approach, methodology and supporting analysis.
Industry Growth & Investment
North East Rail Line (NERL)
The Victorian sections of Inland Rail are part of the North East Rail Line (NERL).
The Australian Government has committed $244 million on the NERL upgrade, which will deliver a Victorian Class 2 track performance standard between Melbourne and Albury. Early works began in 2019, with major works now underway and on track for completion in mid-2021.
When complete the NERL upgrade will enable the Victorian state Government's passenger rail operator, V/Line, to introduce new, faster and more reliable 'VLocity' trains on standard gauge, and enhances track performance for Victoria's North East.
T2A construction to upgrade existing sites along the NERL and get the track freight-ready for Inland Rail is scheduled to start in mid-2021.
Port of Melbourne
The Port Rail Shuttle Network is a joint Australian Government and Victorian state Government initiative to improve the efficiency of rail freight movements between the Port of Melbourne and major suburban freight hubs using the existing rail network.
The Australian Government has committed $38 million to the initiative along with $20 million from the Victorian state Government. This funding will be used to deliver capital works and rail infrastructure on public land to successful applicants, leveraging private sector co-investment to establish port rail shuttle operations. The targeted investments will support competitiveness and road-to-rail mode shift of freight in Melbourne, easing road congestion.