TWO companies have been awarded a contract to develop new rail infrastructure at the Port of Melbourne as part of the $A 125m ($US 97.4m) Port Rail Transformation project.

WSP and Seymour Whyte Constructions will undertake early design and contract works on the project which will include a new rail terminal interfacing with the container terminal at East Swanson Dock.

The terminal will consist of two tracks able to handle 600m-long trains. Other work will involve upgrading access, connections and sidings within the port. This work is designed to support Victorian and inter-state trains of up to 1500 metres long and provide more operational flexibility for all trains accessing the port.

On announcing the signing of the contracts, Ms Melissa Horne, Victorian minister for ports and freight, and Mr Brendan Bourke, CEO of the Port of Melbourne, said the work would make rail transport more competitive, cut the high cost of the “last mile” and reduce truck congestion at the port gate.

Improving rail access to the port is a legislated condition of the Port of Melbourne lease.

Site investigations will begin this month with construction expected to start in July. The project is set to be completed in 2023. The state government is also supporting the Port Rail Shuttle Network, which will connect freight hubs in Melbourne’s west, north and south east to the port, along with new intermodal terminals planned at Truganina and Beveridge, and improvements in the regional rail freight network. Construction of a $A 28m rail connection between Dandenong South and the Port of Melbourne was confirmed in August 2020.