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VICTORIA’S key rail freight lines from Maryborough to Mildura and Murrayville will be closed for five months from August as workers narrow the track from broad to standard gauge.
The works are going ahead, despite recent delays in bringing a record harvest to port, due to industrial action and heat-related speed restrictions and line closures.
“V/Line is on track to commence work on stage two of the project (Mildura and Murrayville) in August, and will continue to work with freight operators to minimise disruption while we complete these essential upgrades to the Victorian freight network,” a V/Line spokeswoman said.
The standardisation of the rail lines are part of the $420 million Murray Basin Rail Project, which will upgrade the lines and rid the state’s northwest of broad gauge tracks that restrict direct access to Portland and Geelong.
The Sea Lake and Manangatang lines will remain open, until work is completed on the Mildura and Murrayville lines, before they are also closed for gauge conversion for five months from next March.
A GrainCorp spokesman said the disruptions would have some impact on rail operations, but the grain handler had already planned for the closures.
“Of course there will be some impact on rail operations, but this has been in the pipeline for some time, so we have the opportunity to plan — unlike the industrial action and heat restrictions,” the GrainCorp spokesman said.
“It’s too early to quantify any impact of the works, as it’s not clear what impact the industrial action may still be having — but the Murray Basin Rail project is important for Victorian rail freight efficiency.”
Major Projects Minister Jacinta Allan the project would enable primary producers to get more product to port, more efficiently.
This article first appeared on www.weeklytimesnow.com.au
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