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In the face of no Federal funding in the commonwealth budget for Murray Basin standardisation, Victoria needs to get moving with re-activating Inglewood to Eaglehawk (Bendigo) rail line given a bumper grain harvest. If this link is not immediately re-activated by Victoria thousands of extra road trucks will flood roads for many months to and from ports especially from lack of train capacity on the two broad gauge lines limiting each line currently to only a single grain train a day.
Photo: The rail line between Eaglehawk and Inglewood in Victoria lays in disrepair having been ignored by Vline for several years.
At around $30m to re-open as fit for purpose 40 - 50kmh operation, it will be totally un-acceptable NOT to adopt the low cost job creation project and save Victorians thousands of road truck movements. The acid is really on the State Government now to act and prove that they are champions of encouraging more freight onto rail, and not just allowing more of the same in more bulk road haulage when an environmentally/safer rail freight alternative is readily available at affordable on-going cost.
Ministers saying there are on-going talks with Canberra over the failed Murray Basin Rail Project, totally ignores the issues of lack of current Murray Basin rail capacity, and what happens over the next few years in the face of bumper grain harvests. While Victoria and Canberra negotiate a "BLUE HILLS" solution of some sort the fact remains the network to north west Victoria now has insufficient capacity to delivery the increasing volumes to ports.
Further in the face of good harvests the required window to allow further standardisation of the two broad gauge lines will be hard to realise. One needs average to below average harvests to allow further standardisation, otherwise even more trucks on roads.
An added benefit of reopening the line between Inglewood and Bendigo (putting aside Vline have failed to maintain this line over the past several years allowing it to fall into disrepair) is a shorter trip to/from Melbourne via Bridgewater, for the existing Ultima freight train (a recent success story and example of how rail does lower transport costs).
Approximately 100 export containers per week potentially on rail (ex Bridgewater and off roads) by simply attaching to the existing Ultima inter-modal train.
It is time the transport minister stepped up and supported regional exporting companies and the rail access they rely on to get their valued exports to market.
Extensive discussions on the value of reopening and maintaining this rail link can be read at: https://www.railpage.com.au/f-t11375698.htm
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