WORK is underway on the second stage of the $440m Murray Basin Rail Project.
The Project aims to upgrade and convert more than 1000km of track to standard gauge, allowing for better rail freight services and improved freight access to the state’s major ports.
Federal infrastructure and transport minister Darren Chester, Victorian public transport minister Jacinta Allan and federal Member for Wannon Dan Tehan met rail workers at the small town of Maryborough this week.
Crews are to standardise the track from Dunolly to Yelta, and Ouyen to Murrayville, as well as reopen the line between Maryborough and Ararat.
Minister Darren Chester said the project would provide better rail access between the Murray Basin and the ports of Portland, Geelong and Melbourne.
“The Murray Basin Rail Project will standardise rail gauges and increase maximum freight volumes, allowing higher volumes of goods to be carried more efficiently,” Mr Chester said.
Victorian Minister for Public Transport Jacinta Allan said this was great news for regional Victoria.
“We’re boosting capacity, safety and reliability of freight services in regional Victoria so we can meet the future growth of the region,” Ms Allan said.
Victorian Member for Western Region Jaala Pulford said the project would create hundreds of jobs and allow farmers to get their goods to market more efficiently.
The Sea Lake and Manangatang lines are to remain open during this time and freight operators can consider using these lines as another option to keep moving freight by rail.
Work on the Mildura line will start on August 7, requiring the closure of the line north of Dunolly for the next five months to ensure the safety of work crews.
The $440 million Murray Basin Freight Rail Project is bankrolled by the Australian and Victorian governments, with both contributing up to $220m.