The historic Maryborough to Ararat rail line has reopened with driver training kicking off on the $440 million Murray Basin Rail Project.
Federal Member for Wannon and Minister for Social Services Dan Tehan joined Victorian Minister for Public Transport Jacinta Allan in Avoca today to inspect the line as train drivers undertake training on the upgraded rail corridor.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Barnaby Joyce said the 87-kilometre Maryborough to Ararat rail corridor, which closed in the early 2000s, was set to return as a freight line, boosting local primary producers and exporters.
“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,” Mr Joyce said.
Victorian Minister for Public Transport Jacinta Allan said the start of driver training was a significant milestone for this vital project.
“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,” Ms Allan said.
Federal Member for Wannon Dan Tehan said the project was supporting farmers, their families and the region’s economy by investing in transport infrastructure.
“The overarching project will be a game changer for rail freight in Victoria and will provide a viable alternative to road freight. More than 500 workers, including 220 from regional Victoria, have been employed on the Australian and Victorian government-funded project, with more than 40 businesses from central Victoria engaged to provide a range of services,” Mr Tehan said.
A phased return of freight services to the Mildura line is also underway, with sections of the track progressively opening from south to north.
The Australian Government has committed $240.2 million and the Victorian Government $199.8 million to fund the Murray Basin Rail Project. Construction started in early 2015 and is due for completion by late 2018. For more information, visit www.murraybasinrailproject.com.au.