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.”