Plans for Mildura Passenger Rail Steam Ahead
Passenger rail is on its way to be restored along the Mildura rail line, as the first step of a long and costly process continues to press on, according to Victorian Member for Mildura, Peter Crisp.
Peter joined Anita on the Country Viewpoint to outline the plan.
Mr Crisp's description of the process follows a recent statement on Flow FM by Federal Member for Mallee, Andrew Broad, which made clear passenger rail could be reinstated along the Mildura and Horsham lines.
The Victorian Member for Mildura followed Mr Broad's line of explanation, saying in order to restore passenger trains along the Mildura line, a number of upgrades would have to be completed first.
The initial upgrade required is to make the line safe for freight trains by standardising the track, which is currently underway as part of the $440 million Murray Basin Rail Plan.
According to Mr Crisp the second step of the plan involves reviewing the level crossings - trains currently have to slow to 50km/h on the Mildura line if the crossing is not protected by lights and booms.
"There are about 130 plus level crossings between Mildura and Maryborough that will need upgrading in some way, shape or form," Mr Crisp said.
"It's a very expensive process, but one that needs to be done so the train can travel at 80km/h through there, in order to get people to Melbourne in a reasonable time."
If all upgrades occur successfully, the train trip from Mildura to Melbourne could be reduced from 14 hours (the current time it takes freight to travel the line), to 12, making the form of travel more enticing to passengers.
Mr Crisp said the third step of the plan would involve reviewing passing loops.
"You want a passenger train to pass a freight train on a passing loop.
"At present our freight trains are big, and it would be necessary for the passenger train to wait on a passing loop because they're not long enough for the freight train to pass," Mr Crisp said.
He also outlined the need for upgrading signalling to increase passenger safety, with the final step of the plan being to commission rolling stock and upgrade railway stations.
"It's going to be a long haul, it will be an expensive haul," he said, commenting on the long-term process.
"I think with the work we've done to make it safe for freight, we're probably halfway there, and that's worked out at about $1 million dollars per kilometre."
When asked how much the entire restoration of passenger rail along the Mildura line would cost, Mr Crisp said while it was hard to say, another $440 million or more will be required to make this happen.
"We don't know that exact figure because things change, and there's a number of unknowns."
The Nationals Member was unable to give Flow FM an exact timeline of the process, but confirmed "we are in it for the long haul".
"It will take quite some time, level crossing upgrades could take a number of years to complete, it's specialist work, and so on," he said.
Mr Crisp also mentioned the possibility of passenger rail being restored along the Horsham line, saying: "Their freight line is a little more fit for purpose than ours, so they're probably a little ahead of Mildura."
Flow FM will continue to update you on the Murray Basin Rail project, and the possibility of passenger rail services returning to Horsham and Mildura.