Effectiveness of rail freight support programs


We plan to determine whether programs to encourage more freight on rail have been effective.

Why this is important

Freight rail services connect rural producers and exporters to urban, national and international markets and enable supply chains to operate smoothly across many sectors. The government has forecast that Victoria’s freight volumes will increase from around 360 million tonnes in 2014 to nearly 900 million tonnes in 2051.

Shifting regional freight to rail has social and economic benefits, such as improved community amenity and road safety, and reduced road maintenance costs for local governments. Rail freight helps integrate national and international supply chains and makes them more efficient, particularly for bulk and containerised freight.

Victoria has several programs to support rail as the key mode for bulk and containerised freight transport. These programs aim to achieve the goal of Delivering the Goods: Victorian Freight Plan to shift freight from road to rail when it makes economic and environmental sense to do so.

Despite these programs, the proportion of freight going in and out of the Port of Melbourne by rail decreased by over 50 per cent between 2013–14 and 2020–21.

What we plan to examine

This reasonable assurance performance audit, will examine a selection of programs that contribute to achievement of the freight plan’s goals such as:

  • the Mode Shift Incentive Scheme ($3.6 million funding to 30 June 2022) 
  • 9 regional and 9 urban multimodal container terminals plus urban–port rail shuttles ($20 million state funding and $38 million from the Australian Government).

We propose to scope DoT and V/Line into this engagement.



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