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VICTORIA is no longer a state On the Move.
Despite our ability to produce more than $11 billion worth of food and fibre exports each year we can’t move them.
In fact, if you believe the letter 22 Victorian councils that have written to Premier Daniel Andrews this week, we’re standing still.
“For the first time in our state, we have freight loaded, ready for export, but unable to move,” it said.
The letter’s signatories include councillors from Mildura, East Gippsland and Melbourne City councils, showing how far-reaching the issue is, and how it must no longer be ignored.
For months we’ve heard from farmers and freighters as to how ridiculous operating conditions imposed on the rail network have stopped trains and hindered business.
“V/Line’s actions have directly reduced the profitability of rural communities and has had a significant impact on the state’s agriculture productivity,” the letter said. And it’s hard to disagree.
Yes, safety must come first, and yes, the rail network has been underfunded for years, but no other state stops trains when the mercury hits 33C.
Let’s not forget that when trains stop, trucks start.
That’s OK if you can find a truck and roads are adequately maintained, but when you consider freight trains were running on public holidays this past weekend, incurring significant penalty rates to make up for lost time, the situation has become absurd.
Mr Andrews needs to meet the Rail Freight Alliance’s request for an independent review of the restrictions and realise at this rate, an issue as big as a freight train is coming his way.
This article first appeared on www.weeklytimesnow.com.au
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