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A STANDARD gauge rail triangle at Ararat Junction should be a priority, according to former deputy prime minister Tim Fischer.
Mr Fischer, who is chair of the Rail Freight Network Review, called on the State Government to install a “much needed” standard gauge rail triangle as part of the Murray Basin Rail Project.
Mr Fischer said a missing standard gauge triangle, which would allow trains from Mildura and Maryborough to cut straight across the line down to Geelong and on to Melbourne, was causing “agony in Ararat”, with up to an hour or more added to freight journeys.
“It just adds to the inefficiency of rail,” Mr Fischer said.
He said every freight intermodal train between Merbein and Mildura, to Dynon and Melbourne, currently had to first pass through Maryborough then Ararat junctions until a loop was found that would allow locomotives to be unhooked, reverse direction, and head back through Ararat and on to the main line to Geelong.
He said the process added more than an hour to every freight train heading to Geelong and Melbourne.
“Unfortunately there’s been a complete stuff-up within the Victorian Government units involved. This has drifted on too long,” Mr Fischer said.
“This much-needed eastern triangle needs an urgent kick along to be completed hopefully by Melbourne Cup Day, if not December 1.
“The Government has approved a liaison with the Australia Rail Track Corporation for the installation of the eastern triangle at Ararat, requesting a second dual gauge diamond to allow Mildura to Melbourne freight trains to cross direction on to the broad gauge passenger line to Ballarat.
“The Victorian Government V/Line transport units involved need to give it absolute priority.”
A spokeswoman for Public Transport Minister Jacinta Allan said V/Line was delivering works for the second stage of the Murray Basin Rail Project.
“The remaining work for stage two includes upgrading and activating a number of level crossings between Ararat and Maryborough which will be complete by the end of August 2018,” the spokeswoman said.
“This will enable track speeds on this line to be increased, providing time savings of more than an hour. The construction of the Ararat Junction will also be completed by the end of the year.”
When asked by The Weekly Times if a liaison with the Australian Rail Track Corporation for installation of an eastern triangle at Ararat had been approved, the spokeswoman said an eastern triangle was not part of the scope of the Murray Basin Rail Project or the Freight-Passenger Rail Separation Project.
Information provided by the State Government showed the Ballarat line upgrade was not part of the state’s infrastructure pipeline when the Murray Basin Rail Project commenced.
State Government information also showed Rail Projects Victoria are set to deliver the Ballarat Line Upgrade and the Freight-Passenger Rail Separation Project, along with future stages of the Murray Basin Rail Project.
This article first appeared on www.weeklytimesnow.com.au
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