Australia’s Victorian Government has unveiled plans to standardise and upgrade the entire Murray Basin rail network, which will involve an investment of $416m.
Murray Basin rail project has been designed to improve the freight services in Northern Victoria and better connect primary producers to the major ports in the state.
Premier of Victoria Daniel Andrews said: "This is good for farmers, their families and our economy, and we’re calling on the Abbott government to step up and contribute to this critical project."
As part of the project plan, lines from Geelong to Mildura, Manangatang, Sea Lake and Murrayville will be standardised, while the existing unused standard gauge connection between Maryborough and Ararat will be reopened.
The lines are said to fix the missing links in the freight network and connect regional Victoria to the ports of Portland, Geelong and Melbourne.
These are also expected to improve freight connections to southern New South Wales and South Australia. During the 50-year lease term, improved connections to the Port of Melbourne will offer more certainty to the supply chain and stevedores.
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The government plans to increase axle loading on Murray Basin freight lines to 21t, helping larger trains to carry more product with each trip.
According to the government, the project already received up to $220m in the 2015-2016 Victorian budget and $5m was fast-tracked in February to get work started on critical maintenance and safety works.
Major works on the project is slated to begin in the second half of this year, which will create around 270 jobs during construction.
Funding to this rail project is in addition to the new $200m agriculture infrastructure and jobs fund.
Image: The Labor government plans to reopen the existing unused standard gauge connection between Maryborough and Ararat. Photo: courtesy of Marcus Wong Wongm via Wikipedia.