Nationals celebrate Basin Rail milestone at Merbein
A terrific milestone in the Murray Basin Rail Project has been reached today, with the first freight train departing Merbein this afternoon and heading south on the newly standardised Mildura rail line.
The Nationals’ Member for Mildura Peter Crisp, Leader and Shadow Minister for Regional Victoria and Decentralisation Peter Walsh, and Member for Northern Victoria Luke O’Sullivan joined community and industry representatives at Wakefields Rail Depot this afternoon to mark the special occasion.
“The Nationals are very proud to have been part of the former Liberal-Nationals Government that funded and started this critical upgrade back in 2014, and we are also very proud that our Federal colleagues came to the party with matching funds needed to complete the huge project,” Mr Walsh said.
“The Murray Basin Rail Project upgrades are critically important for getting Victoria’s food and fibre to markets around the world and it is just terrific to be here today to celebrate with Mildura as the first train leaves Merbein on the new line.”
Member for Mildura Peter Crisp said The Nationals had seized a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity back in 2014, securing the sale of Rural Finance and delivering $220 million contribution for the State’s contribution.
“This project would not have been realised if not for the former Liberal Nationals Government identifying that funding source and delivering on our promise to spend the proceeds on a project of state significance for the benefit of Regional Victorian communities and industries,” Mr Crisp said.
“We kept our word, delivered the funding and got the project underway, and the end result is going to bring great benefits for our region.
“When complete, the upgrade will increase maximum freight volumes for rail and will cut about 20,000 truck trips off our country roads which is important for taking pressure off our road networks and for other motorists.
“The Basin Rail upgrade will also boost the viability of our local industries like agriculture and mineral sands, which in turns helps to create and protect jobs here in North West Victoria.
“When our primary industries thrive, our communities also thrive and that’s why I’m really proud to have been part of the former Liberal Nationals Government that seized on this opportunity for Mildura.”