The Government of Victoria in Australia has announced that operations have reopened along the Maryborough to Ararat rail line, which forms part of the A$440m ($355.68m) Murray Basin Rail Project.

A driver training programme for the upgraded rail corridor is currently underway.

Australian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Barnaby Joyce said: “Victoria’s Murray Basin is a nationally important producer and exporter of grain, mineral sands, fruit, vegetables and wine.

“The Murray Basin Rail Project is an investment in these industries, the competitiveness of our port and freight operators, and Australia’s economy.”

"This stage of the project has supported hundreds of local jobs, delivered real economic benefits to rural communities and will provide long-lasting support to Victorian farmers and businesses."

The 87km-long Maryborough to Ararat rail corridor was originally closed in the early 2000s and is set to operate as a freight line to provide assistance to local businesses.

Victorian Minister for Public Transport Jacinta Allan said: “The reopening of the Ararat to Maryborough line for driver training is a significant step forward as we get on with the job to help our primary producers get more produce to port.

“This stage of the project has supported hundreds of local jobs, delivered real economic benefits to rural communities and will provide long-lasting support to Victorian farmers and businesses.”

The Murray Basin Rail Project is currently under construction and is expected to improve Victoria’s rail freight network, as well as offer better and more affordable rail freight services to the state’s north-west region.

It is scheduled to be completed by the end of this year.

The federal government has committed to providing a total of A$240.2m ($194.25m) towards the project, while the Victorian Government is expected to contribute a further A$199.8m ($161.58m).