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The condition of this railway line resulted in it being ‘booked out of service’ in June last year and concerns were expressed earlier this year that it may not reopen.
An intensive sleeper replacement program in March and April this year saw the line reopened and has since then 66,000 tonnes of grain has been transported from the Rainbow and Jeparit Graincorp storages by rail, with all three current players in the rail grain haulage market involved.
Since Qube Logistics ran the first grain train for the year on 23 April, both Pacific National and Southern Shorthaul Railroad have also operated on the line with most of this grain going to drought-affected livestock in New South Wales.
The Minister for Ports and Freight Melissa Horne said: “The usage we’re seeing on the line shows how beneficial our rail freight investment is to farmers, who now have a cost-effective means of transporting their crops.”
The Victorian Farmers Federation Grains Group President, Ashley Fraser, also said that the heavy use of the reinstated Rainbow-Dimboola rail line demonstrates the high demand for rail freight from the grains industry in the Wimmera and Mallee regions.
“We know the demand is there, industry knows the demand is there and here is the government’s data demonstrating the demand is there. All that is required is a willingness to get on with the job,” Mr Fraser said.
This line will also receive further improvements as part of an $83 million freight package that will focus on replacing sleepers and repairing ballasts around the state, as part of the government’s economic response to the coronavirus.
Based on this evidence, the VFF is also calling on the government to prioritise the upgrading of several other grain only railway lines into the Mallee as part of the Murray Basin Rail Project, “If they (the Victorian Government) build it, absolutely, the trains will come.”
Above - One of the 33 grain trains to have operated on the Rainbow line since it reopened earlier this year - a Southern Shorthaul Railroad train Jeparit on the evening of Tuesday 7 July 2020.
Each train standard length train of around 40 hoppers transports the equivalent of 50 B-double truck trips, and with approximately 150,000 tonnes of grain to be transported over this line this season, this equates to about 7,000 return truck trips.
The Dimboola Grain Centre has also seen a regular parade of grain trains this year with multiple services a week loading feed grain for New South Wales. Along with Pacific National, Qube, and Southern Shorthaul Railroad, that all regularly travel via Melbourne, Aurizon has also loaded some trains here recently, and they operate via Adelaide.
A Pacific National grain train enroute to Rainbow soon after departing Jeparit on the morning of 30 June 2020.
This article first appeared on www.dimboolacourier.com.au
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