Major track upgrades to the Mildura Line as part of the $440 million Murray Basin Rail Project have been completed.
Services have returned to the line after a seven-month closure for works to upgrade and convert the track from broad gauge to standard gauge.
A Wakefield Transport Group container train will travel to the Port of Melbourne via the recently reopened Maryborough to Ararat line, which has also been upgraded through the Murray Basin Rail Project.
Minister for Regional Development, Jaala Pulford, said, “The Murray Basin Rail Project is reconnecting Victoria’s north west with our major ports in Portland, Geelong and Melbourne, and providing long lasting support to Victorian farmers and businesses.
“The Mildura Line is one of our busiest rail freight links, playing a key role in transporting the Murray Basin region’s grain, mineral sands, fruit, vegetables and wine to our ports and to the world.”
More than 500 workers, including 220 from regional Victoria, have been employed on the project.
Minister for Public Transport, Jacinta Allan, said the Murray Basin Rail project is creating local jobs during construction, providing a welcome boost to towns in central and north-western Victoria.
“Once finished, it will provide better connections into Portland, Geelong and Melbourne, taking trucks off our roads and moving more freight by rail.”
As well as standardising the line, works have increased axle loading from 19 tonnes to 21 tonnes, which will allow trains to carry additional freight.
The project team sourced major materials such as ballast, concrete sleepers, fasteners and crossings from Victorian suppliers, and engaged more than 40 businesses from central Victoria to provide a range of services.
The next stage of the Murray Basin Rail Project will upgrade the Sea Lake and Manangatang lines.
The Murray Basin Rail Project is jointly funded by the Australian and Victorian Governments.