The Murray Basin Rail Project will deliver important upgrades to Victoria’s rail freight network to meet increasing demand for freight services.

The project will drive economic growth, create jobs and provide a major boost to the transport industry, agricultural sector and regional communities.

Project scope

The Murray Basin Rail Project will deliver key benefits for primary producers and freight operators including increased capacity, improved network reliability and resilience, and reduced journey times.

The project includes:

  • re-sleepering, adding ballast and adjusting track on the Ouyen to Murrayville Line
  • track upgrades from Ararat to Maryborough
  • new or upgraded sidings at Donald and Merbein
  • new and extended passing loops
  • upgraded signalling at Ararat and Maryborough junctions and the Ouyen yard
  • new turnouts at Dunolly junction
  • re-sleepering on the Mildura-Yelta Line
  • re-sleepering from Sea Lake to Dunolly (complete)
  • planning and assessment work for further upgrades.

Project benefits

The Murray Basin Rail Project will deliver key benefits for primary producers and freight operators across the Murray Basin freight network, and support 1,000 direct and indirect jobs during delivery.

Upgrades to the Ouyen to Murrayville Line, including re-sleepering, adding ballast and adjusting track, will remove the heat and speed restrictions which have limited use of the line. Track upgrades from Ararat to Maryborough will increase load capacity to 21 tonne axle loading (TAL) and improve travel times by enabling freight trains to operate at higher speeds.

Work is now complete to replace approximately 120,000 sleepers between Sea Lake and Dunolly, enabling speed restrictions to be removed along the line.

The revised package of works will increase the number of train paths on the Murray Basin network from 28 paths to 49 paths removing around 20,000 truck trips from Victorian roads.

These works will address key operational issues identified by industry and will deliver more freight paths, reduce journey times and boost network reliability and resilience.

The revised program of works has been developed in consultation with industry stakeholders, with their feedback used to inform the project scope and staged delivery of works.

The project will increase the capacity, reliability and efficiency of the network, supporting the movement of goods by rail.

Next steps

Rail Projects Victoria is progressing the detailed planning and design work for each package of upgrades.

The Ouyen to Murrayville Line upgrades are underway, with a contractor appointed to deliver these works. Track upgrades from Ararat to Maryborough are scheduled to begin in early 2022.

A contractor has also been appointed to deliver signalling upgrades at Ararat Junction, with works underway.

Significant and complex signalling design is underway on further upgrades including new passing loops and sidings and improvements to Maryborough and Dunolly junctions.

Planning for re-sleepering on the Mildura-Yelta Line and a mobile fuelling site at Ouyen is also progressed.

Ongoing consultation with industry remains a critical element in planning delivery of the project, to identify opportunities for works to be delivered as quickly as possible while minimising the impacts of construction over peak grain seasons.

Project delivery

Rail Projects Victoria will deliver the project, which will support 1,000 direct and indirect jobs during delivery.

Revised business case

A revised Murray Basin Rail Project business case was developed by the Department of Transport and Rail Projects Victoria and submitted to the Commonwealth Government in 2020.

The business case outlined a revised scope of works to optimize the standard and broad gauge networks, which was funded by the Australian and Victorian governments.

Download a copy of the Murray Basin Rail Project Business Case Review Summary 2020 (PDF, 235.1 KB).

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