RRA raises issues over Murray Basin rail plan

Rail Revival Alliance president Noel Laidlaw says he is concerned that a potential lack of future infrastructure as part of the Murray Basin rail project will cause trouble for holding yards at towns such as Maryborough.

A new report by the RRA, titled the ‘Proposed Refinements to the Murray Basin Rail Standardisation Plan’ says future planning for the yard could be “totally inadequate”.

However, the state government is yet to reveal details of planning for stages three and four while discussions continue at federal level.

A statement to The Courier from Public Transport Minister Jacinta Allan’s office said there is “no planned work” at the station.

However, Mr Laidlaw said the pre-emptive report aimed to highlight future issues if the yard is not capable of housing trains on a busy network. 

“Right along the line the Murray Basin plan seems to be cutting out a lot of infrastructure that’s in place,” he said.

“Our biggest concern at the moment is a (potential) cut back to the Maryborough infrastructure will vastly reduce the number of holding roads.

“Even at a moderately busy time, it will be increasingly difficult for any private operator to stable their trains overnight.

“If you’ve got a broken down loco, you have to put it somewhere. This could lead to the downgrading of the Maryborough depot. One of the reasons we’ve got one is because it’s the hub of the network.”

The report reinforces Mr Laidlaw’s views.

“The number of roads made available in the proposed yard will be totally inadequate for major train movements and the necessary remaking of trains, crossing of trains and temporary storage,” it reads.

“The implication for current or any future freight operator to keep Maryborough as a depot are dire as the ‘hub’ of freight operations as it currently stands would be unlikely to continue into the future.”

Private freight operators may see such towns as Ararat with its main line connection, a much more attractive location in which to centre their operations.”

Meanwhile, stage two works will see the Maryborough and Ararat rail line upgraded and re-opened. Works will see several crossings along the line closed as a critical safety measure.

Central to stage two works is the increase of axle loading on lines from 19 to 21 tonnes for more loading.