The state government will spend $130 million untangling freight and passenger rail lines in central Ballarat in order to allow for more trains to run through the city.
On Wednesday Public Transport Minister Jacinta Allan revealed details of the Freight-Passenger Rail Separation Project, which focuses on separating single and broad gauge track.
Under the project broad gauge passenger services and single gauge freight trains will be separated in and around Ballarat Station, allowing for more efficient use of the platforms and fewer hold-up periods.
More than one kilometre of track will also be duplicated between the station and North Ballarat Junction in order to remove a bottleneck at the Armstrong Street bridge.
The works, which are an extension of Murray Basin Rail Project, have been factored into the 2018/19 budget but do not have a defined start date.
In a statement, Ms Allan said the removal of bottlenecks in and around Ballarat would lead to greater rail efficiencies for freight and passenger trains.
“The Freight-Passenger Rail Separation Project will ensure that we maximise the benefits of the Murray Basin Rail Project and the Ballarat Line Upgrade – that means more passenger services in the future and dedicated pathways for freight to the ports”.
The Freight-Passenger Rail Separation Project will ensure that we maximise the benefits of the Murray Basin Rail Project and the Ballarat Line Upgrade – that means more passenger services in the future and dedicated pathways for freight to the ports”.Jacinta Allan - Public Transport Minister
When completed the upgrade will allow for a fifth daily commuter service to run between Ballarat and Ararat while paving the way for further services to Maryborough.
The removal of congestion will also allow freight trains to run at a higher speed through Ballarat. The upgrades will allow up 65 return freight services to run from the Murray Basin region through Ballarat with the use of the Ararat and Maryborough loop.
The details follow a tumultuous period for the Murray Basin Project after joint venture McConnell Dowell Martinus Rail were pulled from the job.
The joint venture were removed from the $440 million project earlier this year after a timeline blowout and concerns around quality of work.
V/Line and Rail Projects Victoria are now in charge of the build.