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WORKS installing new track turnout near Ararat Station are nearly complete, and will enable freight trains travelling from the recently-opened Maryborough-Ararat line to connect with the interstate standard gauge network.
The works form part of stage two of the Murray Basin Rail Project, which is largely complete, with freight trains now running between Yelta and Maryborough, Murrayville and Ouyen and between Maryborough and Ararat.
The project is standardizing track gauges from broad to standard gauge across the state, allowing freight trains greater access to major ports as well as improving performance.
The work in Ararat will mean the line is a dual gauge double diamond railway junction, meaning trains compatible with both gauge types will be able to travel through.
This new link will be operational by February.
Ex-deputy prime minister and former chair of the Victorian Rail Freight study, Tim Fischer, said the New East Ararat triangle is vital and long overdue.
“Ararat is now Australia's only dual gauge double diamond railway junction after work over the last few weeks,” he said.
“It will allow far more efficient freight train movement between Mildura and Maryborough through Ararat to Geelong and Melbourne.
“As a bonus, it will allow the turning of complete steam heritage tourist trains at Ararat facilitating day trips from Melbourne for lunch at Ararat and return.
Mr Fischer added that the work should have been done one year ago.
“I welcome the fact the Australian Rail Track Corporation is now completing this project which is expected to be operational late February.”
A map of the works being undertaken as part of the Murray Basin Rail Project. Source: V/LINE.
The Ararat to Maryborough line is currently operating at 65 kilometres per hour, with the few remaining track speed restrictions on the line to be progressively removed.
Speeds on the Maryborough to Ararat rail line were raised to 65 kilometres per hour in late August following the upgrade of 30 level crossings, which now feature boom gates, bells and flashing lights to boost safety for motorists and freight train drivers.
The Mildura to Maryborough line is now operating at 80 kilometres per hour.
Rail Projects Victoria is also finalising the planning and design for the remaining stages of the Murray Basin Rail Project.
The remaining stages include track standardization and upgrades to the Maryborough to Manangatang line and the Korong Vale to Sea Lake line.
The entire project is expected to be completed by late 2020.
This article first appeared on www.araratadvertiser.com.au
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