The historic Maryborough to Ararat rail line in Victoria has reopened with driver training kicking off on the $440 million Murray Basin Rail Project.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, Barnaby Joyce, said the 87km Maryborough to Ararat rail corridor, which closed in the early 2000s, was set to return as a freight line, boosting local primary producers and exporters.

“Victoria’s Murray Basin is a nationally important producer and exporter of grain, mineral sands, fruit, vegetables and wine. The Murray Basin Rail Project is an investment in these industries, the competitiveness of our port and freight operators, and Australia’s economy,” Mr Joyce said.

Victorian Minister for Public Transport, Jacinta Allan, said the start of driver training was a significant milestone for the project.

“The reopening of the Ararat to Maryborough line for driver training is a significant step forward as we get on with the job to help our primary producers get more produce to port,” Ms Allan said.

Federal Member for Wannon and Minister for Social Services, Dan Tehan, said the project was supporting farmers, their families and the region’s economy by investing in transport infrastructure.

“The overarching project will be a game changer for rail freight in Victoria, and will provide a viable alternative to road freight,” Mr Tehan said.

A phased return of freight services to the Mildura line is also underway, with sections of the track progressively opening from south to north. 

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