Food & Fibre Great South Coast Inc. today welcomed the Federal Government announcement of $200.2 million toward the completion of the Murray Basin Rail Project.

The new plan involves the re-railing the Maryborough–Ararat line to improve journey times and increase axle loads to 21 tonnes and new passing loops as well as new or upgraded sidings at Maryborough, Donald and Merbein.

“This investment breathes life back into what has been a stalled project. Critically, we are moving back to the goal of rail standardisation in Western Victoria, allowing competition across the Ports of Geelong, Portland and Melbourne. An efficient and affordable rail freight network is essential for the future of food and fibre industries competing in a global market”, Food and Fibre Great South Coast Chair Georgina Gubbins said.

“While this funding announcement is welcome news, it will not see through the completion of the remaining stages of this project and we urge the Victorian and Federal Government’s to work in partnership to see it through to completion.

Producing $2.3 billion in agricultural output annually, the Great South Coast is a key driver of Victoria’s record $14.5 billion in exports, with strong capacity to grow. The food and fibre industry accounts for 60 percent of the Great South Coast’s GDP and 21.6 percent of total jobs. We are routinely in the top three food and fibre producing regions nationally, and the largest in Victoria.