Vic, Rail freight back on Portland-Maroona line
Vic, Rail freight back on Portland-Maroona line
Posted 3 Sept2008
• Map: Portland 3305
Rail freight will return to the Portland to Maroona train line, under a multi-million deal between miner Iluka Resources and freight operator El Zorro.
The previous rail freight operator, Pacific National, pulled out of the line in March, saying it was no longer economically viable.
The new deal will see mineral sands loaded into freight containers in Portland, and sent by rail to Melbourne for export.
Peter Beilby from Iluka says rail is cheaper than using trucks to and from Melbourne.
"You can do it by trucks, but this is where rail freight comes into effect because it becomes more efficient, cost effective doing it by rail which is why we've done this move," he said.
El Zorro says the deal has created three jobs in Portland.
The company's director, Geoff Tighe, says there could be more jobs created in the future.
"We'll be expanding our work force and as we do other projects for Iluka, then obviously we'll employ more people and take on other resources as required," he said.
Vic, Sands to travel by rail, Portland line back in action
Warrnambool, 4/09/2008 12:00:00 AM
THOUSANDS of tonnes of mineral sands will be taken off south-west roads after a Victorian freight company agreed to operate the Portland-Maroona rail line.
El Zorro, the same firm that moves freight on the Melbourne-Warrnambool line, has finalised a deal with Iluka Resources to haul 3000 tonnes of mineral sands out of Portland each week.
The deal has south-west rail freight advocates hopeful of further investment on the Portland-Maroona line, which is set to be overhauled to increase speed and weight limits.
Freight operator Pacific National abandoned the line in March due to a poor grain harvest, sparking fears about an increase in B-double trucks moving the region's growing cargo volumes.
Iluka currently trucks its mineral sands from a separation plant in Hamilton to Portland, where it is either shipped in bulk overseas or moved by road to Melbourne's container ports.
The El Zorro deal means the sand, which requires large numbers of trucks to transport, can be moved in greater volumes on rail.
Iluka general manager for the Murray Basin region Peter Beilby said the deal was a "positive move", especially after the mooted upgrades to the line.
Glenelg Shire Mayor Geoff White welcomed the new rail movements.
"If we can get a service like that it would lead to other commodities being carried on the line by El Zorro," he said.
El Zorro director Geoff Tighe said the first 40-container, 1000-tonne load would roll out of Portland on September 15 as part of the scheduled tri-weekly trips to Melbourne.
"(Iluka) have never used rail before directly and they've got confidence in us," he said.
The additional freight on the line would provide added incentive for the Australian Rail Track Corporation to move ahead with its $15 million commitment to improving the line, he added.

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