Below Rail Infrastructure, Engineering, Freight Rail

Murray Basin rail works progressing

Victorian public transport minister Jacinta Allan has declared stage one of the Murray Basin rail network upgrade complete, and has outlined what’s in store for the second stage of the transformative project.

Allan, who visited Maryborough on Monday, said $40 million in stage one works had delivered vital upgrades to the Mildura and Hopetoun rail line, with more than 175,000 sleepers and 3,400 meters of rail installed.

The minister said stage two of the project involves the gauge conversion of the rail lines between Yelta and Maryborough, and also between Ouyen and Murrayville. The lines will need to be shut for five months for that work to take place.

Allan said the works will include upgrading and re-opening the Maryborough to Ararat rail line which has been closed for more than a decade. Vegetation removal on the line will commence shortly, enabling the construction works to begin in July 2017.

Works will also include increasing axle loading on the lines from 19 to 21 tonnes, allowing the freight industry to deliver larger volumes of goods to export sites on the coast.

A number of level crossings along the Maryborough to Ararat line will be closed as part of the work, and individually assessed against safety criteria.

A project office will be established at the Maryborough railway station to enable local residents and businesses to conveniently access members of the project team.

The Andrews Government says stages 3 and 4 of the Murray Basin rail work program will depend on funding from the Commonwealth Government.

“The Andrews Labor Government is getting on with transforming Victoria’s rail freight network,” Allan said. “We’re boosting capacity, safety and reliability of freight services in regional Victoria so we can meet the future growth of the region.”


  1. Great news about the completion of stage 1. Stage two works involving “gauge conversion of the rail lines between between Ouyen and Murrayville” means it will be possible to build the short link to Pinnaroo in South
    Australia. Business along the standard gauge Pinnaroo – Tailem Bend Line will then have a choice of ports such as Portland and Melbourne besides using the steep and difficult line through the Adelaide Hills to get to Port Adelaide

  2. I will B Most Interested in the Branch Line to Muldura as I Feel There is a Lot of Resource Mining Potential in the State of Victoria as Well as New South Wales. There is Also the Opportunities to Expand Northward Up to Broken Hill and Create a 2nd Transcontinental Mainline to Points West and Out to Perth and North to Darwin With Double Stack Containers. With Resource Mining Opportunities in Both New South Wales, South Australia, and Victoria This Opens the Ports of Portland, Geelong,as Well as Melbourne the Chance to Compete With Adelaide in Resource Mining Exports. If The Three States Make the Efforts to Co operate on
    Rail – Something States are Notorious for Not or Shall We Say Doing a Terrible Job due to “Red Tape” and
    Stupid Petty Differences, then the Opportunities will B the Long Term of Things. The Branch to Muldura has the Best Chances to Make it a Paying Proposition in Rail and Opening Up to the Opportunities
    that are in the Regions . Lets Not Blow It.

    Andrew W. Matheson.

  3. Your assumption is that G.W.A. will allow another operator to run trains on their track between Tailem Bend-Pinnaroo. The only section of track which allows for true open access is the section between the S.A./Vic Border and Grainflow, Pinnaroo.

    Back in 2015 Grainflow were meant to be in talks with the Victorian Government to see if the less than 5km between Panitya and Grainflow, Pinnaroo could be reactivated and Gauge Converted. I have not heard if this will be included in Stage 2 of the Murray Basin Project.

  4. Given that GWA is part of the American G&W conglomerate I am certain that they are keen to keep traffic on the line to their their trains. That seems to be the standard practice in the USA for the companies that own the rail tracks, favoring their own trains to the exclusion of competitors.
    If the S.A. Liberals win the next S.A. election they might build the 24 hour freight only airport at Monarto

  5. The Ouyen to Pinaroo line is planned to be converted from BG to SG only as far as Murrayville according to the Summary document
    The S.A. government still retains ownership of the Tailem Bend to Pinaroo Line, but leased it to GWA.
    I drive along this rail line at least twice a year.

    “It is noted that the preferred project shown at Figure 2 includes standardisation of the line from Ouyen to Murrayville. Standardisation of this line was not initially included in the scope of the Murray Basin Rail Project as, at the time the project was first considered, the line was found to be carrying too little grain to warrant significant investment. However, GrainCorp, the key user of the line, has subsequently indicated strong interest in investing in the rail capacity of the terminal at Murrayville
    and increasing use of the line. A separate business case assessment of standardisation of the Murrayville line was subsequently prepared to support addition of this line to the core Murray Basin Rail Project. As a result of this, whilst the line to Murrayville is now part of the preferred project scope of the Murray Basin Rail Project, the assessment of the costs and economic benefits of standardising this line are not included in this business case having been considered in a separate business case. ”
    “GrainCorp who operate receival sites along this line have indicated a
    preparedness to co-invest in upgrading this line, along the same terms as they contributed to the reopening of the Yaapeet branch line.
    The Ouyen – Murrayville rail line upgrade is dependent on the MBRP, and its funding is being considered as a separate business case. ”

    The large silos alongside the Pinaroo Station just need the line conversion to be extended from Murrayville to become useful again.

  6. Indeed the S.A. Government still retains ownership, but the long-term lease to G.W.A. puts them in charge of the Open Access arrangement, which is similar to the Open Access arrangement on the Darwin Line, which effectively rules out any other operator operating on the line. Auzircon tried to get another operator to haul their Mineral Sands out of Mindarie, but G.W.A. made the access charges prohibitive making them the only option.

    The town silos at Pinnaroo are owned by Glencore Grain (Viterra), which G.W.A. now have a stack in since their acquisition of GlencoreRail last year, so I can’t see anyone else shifting grain out of there. Again the only silos which are available for true Open Access are the Grainflow silos to the East of Pinnaroo.