The Government of Victoria in Australia has announced that upgrade works have begun on the second stage of the A$440m ($351m) Murray Basin Rail Project.
The project involves the conversion of more than 1,000km of track to standard gauge, in order to enhance rail freight services and access to major ports.
Preliminary works, involving site investigations and vegetation removal, have started.
Works are also scheduled to commence in Dunolly, including major upgrades to the Mildura freight rail line.
Under the project, rail tracks from Dunolly to Yelta and Ouyen to Murrayville will be upgraded and standardised.
The Maryborough to Ararat line is also scheduled to open as part of the project.
The upgrade works are expected to increase train axle loadings from 19t to 21t between the routes, allowing the freight trains to transport heavier freight.
Federal Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Darren Chester said: “Improving the performance of the regional Victorian rail freight network will bolster the state’s agricultural sector, drive economic growth, help create jobs and boost regional communities.
“The Murray Basin Rail Project will standardise rail gauges and increase maximum freight volumes, allowing higher volumes of goods to be carried more efficiently.”
The Victorian Government also revealed that the Sea Lake and Manangatang lines will remain open during the project, allowing operators to transport freight by rail.
Work on the Mildura line is scheduled to start on 7 August, and the line north of Dunolly will be closed for the next five months.
The Murray Basin Freight Rail Project is equally funded by the Federal Government and the Victorian Government.