Revitalising the Murray Basin Rail Network

26 June 2017

Works to revitalise more than 1,000 kilometres of Victoria’s rail freight network will be underway within weeks, with the McConnell Dowell Martinus Rail joint venture announced today as the successful tenderer for the project.

Federal Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Darren Chester and Acting Victorian Minister for Public Transport Luke Donnellan today announced the contract award for stages two, three and four of the $440 million Murray Basin Rail Project, which is jointly funded by the Australian and Victorian governments.

The upgrade will standardise and upgrade the track from broad gauge to standard gauge, increase axle loading from 19 tonnes to 21 tonnes on the network apart from Ouyen to Murrayville line, and begin the work to reopen the 87-kilometre rail line between Maryborough and Ararat.

The upgrade will allow the Murray Basin region to increase exports to Victoria’s major ports in Portland, Geelong and Melbourne.

The project will improve Victoria’s rail freight network and provide the Murray Basin area with better rail freight services, increased rail access and greater reliability, and increase the volume of products that can be transported to market.

The main project office will be established in Maryborough, with other sites located across the region, including Ararat, Ballarat, Dunolly, Ouyen and Mildura.

Construction will begin in the coming weeks and will involve the temporary closure of the Maryborough to Yelta and Ouyen to Murrayville sections while the upgrades take place.

The Sea Lake and Manangatang lines will remain open during this time so freight operators can use these as an option to move grain and other produce using rail.

The first stage of the project was completed in 2016, with the installation of 175,000 sleepers and 3400 metres of new rail on the Mildura and Hopetoun lines. Timelines and more information about the project can be found at

Quotes attributable to Federal Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Darren Chester

“Once the Murray Basin Rail Project is completed, trains on the freight network will be able to carry more product, more often.”

“There will be huge benefits to the Australian economy, with the project supporting an increase in competition between the three ports and operators of freight trains and increasing export volumes to overseas markets.”

Quotes attributable to Victorian Acting Minister for Public Transport Luke Donnellan

"This huge project will make it easier for primary producers to get their goods to market -- boosting exports, supporting local jobs and growing our regional economy.

“This project will create more than 400 jobs at peak construction, with at least 15 per cent of this workforce being recruited from the Murray Basin region.”

Reviewed 19 August 2020

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