The A$176.2m ($131.54m) Bendigo and Echuca line upgrade project will involve the construction of new stations at Goornong, Raywood, and Huntly, along with track improvements. Credit: State Government of Victoria, Australia.
The track between Epsom and Echuca will be upgraded to increase the maximum train speed on the Echuca Line. Credit: State Government of Victoria, Australia.
A new electronic train order (ETO) system will be installed as part of the upgrade, in order to modernise the existing train control system. Credit: State Government of Victoria, Australia.

The Bendigo and Echuca line in Victoria, Australia, is being modernised through a series of major upgrades to provide safer and more efficient travel in the greater Bendigo region.

The rail line upgrade will deliver signalling improvements on the Bendigo-Epsom and Bendigo-Eaglehawk sections and track repairs between Epsom and Echuca stations on the line.

Rail Projects Victoria (RPV), a government agency, is implementing the upgrade on behalf of the Victorian Government. The project is part of the Victorian Government’s A$4bn ($2.95bn) Regional Rail Revival programme that seeks to improve all the regional passenger rail lines in the state.

Estimated to cost A$176.2m ($131.54m), the project is backed by A$158.7m ($118.47m) funding from the Australian Government while the remainder will be funded by the Victorian Government. The works related to the project delivery began in June 2021 and are anticipated to be completed in 2022.

Bendigo and Echuca line upgrade project details

The Bendigo and Echuca line upgrade will involve the development of new stations at Raywood, Goornong, and Huntly as well as the installation of an ungraded electronic train order (ETO) system on Bendigo-Swan Hill and Bendigo-Echuca sections.

The new ETO system will be equipped with on-board telecommunications equipment to determine the real-time location of trains on the railway network and relay it electronically to the train controller, eliminating the existing practice of manual transmission of information between train drivers and controllers. The technology will enable the safe operation of more trains on the Bendigo and Echuca line.

The upgrade project will also improve the train detection technology at ten level crossings located on the section between Bendigo and Eaglehawk to enhance safety.

Furthermore, the existing tracks between Epsom and Echuca will be upgraded to increase the train speed on the route between Epsom and the new Goornong Station from the existing 80km/h to 130km/h.

A business case will be developed to deliver track improvements between Bendigo and Kyneton to improve the frequency of services to 40 minutes during off-peak hours. A planning study for the reopening of the Harcourt station will also be conducted as part of the project.

Details of new stations

The new Goornong station will be located to the west of the Chute Street/Goornong-Barnadown Road level crossing, between the Midland Highway and the rail line in Goornong.

The new Huntly station will be built on the north side of the rail line and west of the Wakeman Road level crossing while the Raywood station will be located on Inglewood Street, just north of the Inglewood Street level crossing.

All three stations will have a single-sided platform, shelter, lighting, seating, signage, and a public address system, car parking, and CCTV systems. The Huntly station will additionally feature a bus stop and two bus bays.

The new Goornong and Raywood stations are scheduled to be completed in late 2021 and late 2022, respectively. The new Huntly Station is expected to be completed in mid-2022.

Benefits of the Bendigo and Echuca line upgrade project

The Bendigo and Echuca rail line upgrade will enable more frequent services between Epsom, Eaglehawk, and Bendigo. It will enable the introduction of two new weekday return services to Echuca, thus tripling the number of weekday services on the route.

Apart from enabling greater connectivity across the region, the project will improve public transportation in the city of Bendigo and provide more travel options to the passengers in the greater Bendigo region.

Contractors involved

Australian construction firm John Holland was awarded a contract to deliver the track upgrades for the Bendigo and Echuca line upgrade. The company will replace more than 20,000 sleepers and deliver rail bridge upgrades, new ballast, drainage improvements, mud-hole removal, and enhancements to level crossings. The track works are expected to begin in September 2021.

Victorian state-owned regional public transport operator V/Line and rail equipment supplier Wabtec will deliver the modernised ETO system for Bendigo-Swan Hill and Bendigo-Echuca sections.

Symal Infrastructure, a construction company based in Australia, was contracted to deliver the three new stations as part of the Bendigo and Echuca line upgrade.