6 Grain line upgrades

  MEASWELL Locomotive Driver

Location: werribee/tullamarine
in the Age this morning

43m to upgrade rail freight lines

THE Victorian Government has moved to ease the crisis in the state's rail freight system with a $43 million package to upgrade key lines.

The Government will improve the speed limits on six grain lines that the Fischer rail freight review recommended be upgraded to "gold" standard as a priority.

These lines, which form a core grain network, are Korong Vale-Quambatook, Korong Vale-Charlton, Murtoa-Warracknabeal, Shepparton-Tocumwal, Swan Hill-Piangil, and Mildura-Yelta.

A Government spokesman said work was expected to start in July to get as much done as possible before the winter harvest.

The $42.7 million package consists of $23.7 million to be spent on the first stage of the six gold lines upgrades and $19 million on general maintenance across the freight network.

Public Transport Minister Lynne Kosky said the Government was committed to transporting freight by rail.

The Victorian Farmers Federation welcomed the package. "Farmers will be pleased with the response we have received from the Victorian Government," said VFF president Simon Ramsay.

Ms Kosky said gold lines between Dunolly-Korong Vale and Echuca-Barnes had already been upgraded. The Fischer report recommended the gold line between Maroona and Portland for rehabilitation in 2010-11.

The rail freight review, chaired by former deputy prime minister Tim Fischer, recommended a prioritised upgrading of the Victorian network, from platinum to gold, silver and bronze quality.

It estimated the total investment package would cost $140 million, plus an ongoing $25 million for annual maintenance beyond 2011.

Meanwhile, Boinka graingrower Ian Brown has called on the Government to upgrade and standardise the line from Ouyen to the South Australian border. The Fischer review classed this line as silver.

Mr Brown said the line, which was vital for the local grains industry, had been closed last year because it was deemed unsafe.

It would cost about $10 million to upgrade and standardise, which would enable it to link in with the standardised line in SA at Pinnaroo. "If we have a big harvest this year, we will be in real trouble without rail," he said.

Meanwhile, expressions of interest to buy Mildura's Wakefield Transport Group close tomorrow with administrator Deloitte.

Wakefield, the main freight carrier between Mildura and Melbourne, went into voluntary administration last month. It has about $25 million turnover.

Its failure is symptomatic of the crisis in Victorian country rail. Rail giant Pacific National has signalled it will stop running freight trains because it is losing too much money, and the rail network is increasingly ramshackle.


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  VRfan Moderator

Location: In front of my computer :-p
Even with these upgrades, will there be an operator able to run the number of grain trains that might be required?
  MEASWELL Locomotive Driver

Location: werribee/tullamarine
agreed, especially when in another news bulletin there was a story that El Zorro have been told by PN that they going either send there wagons over to Saudi Arabia, or scrap them!! and with the news that they are the prefered bidder over there sounds like there won't be much left in victoria to run a service.
surely a small operation such as El Zorro cannot afford the cost of replacing the sets of wagons needed to service a harvest. unless of course the government or the AWB step into help.
and then of course where do you get enough broad gauge locos to run the trains if you can get wagons?
it's a conundrum!!!!  Confused
  jemo27 Junior Train Controller

Location: Kulwin line
what about past Charlton, I;m on a farm north of there, so why isn't it been extended to Sea lake atleast with places like Nullawil which has a large silo set up,

I travel on the calder highway between Bendigo and Nullawil and they have been relaying sleepers at Charlton currently and i was at Clunes and Creswick last week and they were relaying sleepers there as well.
  ethansx49 Chief Train Controller

Location: Warrnambool
Pacific National are pathetic. El zorro would love the rollingstock along with the broad gauge locomotives
  ParkesHub Chief Commissioner

Care to place bets that Arseiano will suddenly reverse their decision and return to grain haul