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Standard gauge is found throughout western Victoria, connecting Hopetoun, Horsham, Ararat and the Port of Portland, and has railway tracks that are about 1.4 metres apart.
But broad gauge tracks, that are about 1.6 metres apart, connect much of the north-west of the state, and this project aims to convert the broad gauge rail to standard rail width.
The project was initially promised by the previous Coalition government, and has now been commissioned with $5 million to be spent shortly on pre-construction safety and maintenance works.
Rail currently transports about half of the region's grain yields, or about 2.1 million tonnes, across the state each year. The western Victorian line is also used to transport mineral sands.
"By fixing this ramshackle rail line, we're helping some of our biggest industries stay competitive," said Transport Minister Jacinta Allan.
The Victorian Farmers Federation said the funding was a "good first step", but said the project must be completed in full to be a success.
"You can’t just standardise the Mildura line without doing the same on broad-gauge lines that feed into it," said VFF president Peter Tuohey.
"Otherwise we end up with stranded lines."
The VFF also urged the government to fund the project with proceeds from the recent sale of the Rural Finance Corporation and the pending long term lease of the Port of Melbourne.
Opposition agriculture spokesman and former agriculture minister, Peter Walsh, said Mr Andrews must commit to the full $220 million for the Mildura freight rail line upgrade.
"Anything less is just more spin," he said.
This article first appeared on www.abc.net.au
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