Freight Rail

Murray-Basin gauge standardisation on the back burner

Gauge standardisation is a talking point in Victoria’s grain-growing regions

The Victorian government has ruled out standardising the Sea Lake and Manangatang rail lines.

Victorian transport infrastructure minister Jacinta Allan told the ABC the use of the rail network had changed since the original business case was prepared almost a decade ago.

“There were significant deficiencies, significant problems with the original business case that was completed the best part of nine years ago,” she said.

“It obviously could not take into account the significant investments that have been made since that time in both freight and passenger rail services in north-west Victoria.”

Standard-gauge trains running on the Mildura line currently can only access Geelong and Melbourne via Ararat.

If standardisation works were completed, those trains could travel via Ballarat.

Ms Allan said that was a problem for future governments.

“At a future time, future governments can consider the standardisation of that part of the network.”

Victorian Farmers Federation grains group president Ashley Fraser expressed disappointment.

“Yes, the network has changed in some ways, but that doesn’t say that the freight problems are not there,” he told the ABC.

Mr Fraser said broad-gauge lines were not being fully utilised because of the need for freight operators to own and maintain two sets of rolling stock, meaning more freight was shifting from rail to road.

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