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Mildura upgrade on track
May 13, 2006


Five years after it promised to re-open the Mildura rail line, the State Government has finally committed to a $73 million upgrade.

Transport Minister Peter Batchelor yesterday announced that the line would be upgraded for freight travel, making passenger services a possibility.

The line, which was closed by the Kennett government, has fallen into disrepair and the latest announcement is part of the Government's transport policy to be released next week.

The state will contribute $53 million towards the project, with the Commonwealth Government expected to allocate $20 million from its AusLink fund. New concrete sleepers, to be installed as part of the upgrade, will be gauge-convertible and will be compatible with future standardisation of the track.

Travel times between Melbourne and Mildura are expected to drop from 14 hours to 10 with improvements enabling faster train speeds.

"The line has deteriorated to the point that we must act quickly to secure the future of the freight service or face closure of the line. This is an important step forward," Mr Batchelor said.

Chairman of the Sunraysia Citrus Growers group Peter Crisp welcomed news of the upgrade, but said the devil would be in the detail.
 

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Lurker
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This is aimed more at freight than passengers, since that's where the money's coming from. Mildura is a bit too far for commuter services anyway, so it'll just be like Bairnsdale, Swan Hill and Ararat with only one or two trains a day when (if) passenger trains return to Mildura.
 

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Insane Gunzel
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Freights in practice take a lot longer than pass services, because it takes them longer to get to full speed from standing, and it's harder for them to get up grades, etc. They're also usually (but not always) limited to slightly slower speeds because they're a lot heavier than, and would therefore wear out the track faster, at the same speed as a pass train.

Just think, if the line were upgraded for continuous 160km/h running, a pass train could possibly get from Melbourne to Mildura in five hours.... *drool*

:D
 

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jarf said:
Freights in practice take a lot longer than pass services, because it takes them longer to get to full speed from standing, and it's harder for them to get up grades, etc. They're also usually (but not always) limited to slightly slower speeds because they're a lot heavier than, and would therefore wear out the track faster, at the same speed as a pass train.

Just think, if the line were upgraded for continuous 160km/h running, a pass train could possibly get from Melbourne to Mildura in five hours.... *drool*

:D
There aren't any grades between Mildura and Ballarat or Maryborough, and as regards getting up to full speed, well how long does it take?

Seriously, this is a question of priorities. I've travelled to Mildura and back from Melboune by rail a number of times. Obviously that was a long time ago. Even then the line was notoriously slow, because it had never really been constructed adequately in the first place.

Good luck to all of my Sunraysia cousins who want a 160 km/hour passenger service to Melbourne, but let's face it, how often would you use it? Don't blame Bracks or Batchelor for this: the truth is: a service like that would have been a financial disaster.

Witness the restoration of rail services to Echuca, for instance. Just a little bit ... now what will Baillieu promise?
 

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Insane Gunzel
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There aren't any grades between Mildura and Ballarat or Maryborough, and as regards getting up to full speed, well how long does it take?
There are a few grades between Ballarat and Maryborough I believe, but they're not extremely significant, but would still slow the train down somewhat. The track is basically flat between Maryborough and Mildura. However, there are a lot of slow curves, which tend to significantly slow down all trains. (Grades only significantly slow down heavier trains)

A long fully-loaded (ie about 1000m) freight would easily traverse a couple of kms while accelerating from 0 to 80.

Oh, and I know that Mildura would never get a 160km/h service, because the upgrade would cost more than several hundred million, but it's a nice thought regardless. :) I reckon it'll get 130km/h services though, meaning a journey time of five hours from Ballarat to Mildura, or six hours from Melbourne to Mildura, should still be possible.
 

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jarf said:
There are a few grades between Ballarat and Maryborough I believe, but they're not extremely significant, but would still slow the train down somewhat. The track is basically flat between Maryborough and Mildura. However, there are a lot of slow curves, which tend to significantly slow down all trains. (Grades only significantly slow down heavier trains)

A long fully-loaded (ie about 1000m) freight would easily traverse a couple of kms while accelerating from 0 to 80.

Oh, and I know that Mildura would never get a 160km/h service, because the upgrade would cost more than several hundred million, but it's a nice thought regardless. :) I reckon it'll get 130km/h services though, meaning a journey time of five hours from Ballarat to Mildura, or six hours from Melbourne to Mildura, should still be possible.
In your dreams.

Issues like the availability of fuel might ultimately change the dynamics here, but face it: how many people travel from Mildura ( and surrounding districts) to Melbourne each day? How amy travel from Ballarat or Bendigo?

And how many 1000m freight trains travel to Mildura each ... year? Without knowing the exact figure ... not a lot.

Getting up to speed and down is absolutely irrelevant on this line, as is any consideration of grades, or for that matter, slow curves. It's the track, mate, and that's what the Government has put up the money to upgrade.

Now if you think you know different, tell me what curves or what grades need to be addressed. Dare I point out that certain improvements have been made between Ballarat and Ballan, which have been rigorously challenged in the media.
 

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Off topic but relevant. I went from Melbourne (actually Footscray) to Geelong and back by train last week ... usually I only make the Geelong to Melbourne trip back by rail.

There was a 1000 m or so Goods train running beside me ... went under me while I was waiting at Footscray, we caught it up at Little River, it ran in front again as we stopped at Lara, and we caught it again at Norlane. It wasn't going to Mildura, of course, it was going to Adelaide.

Another thing I noticed this time was the way the track sounded once you left Werribee: no noise! no "clickety-clack!" The recently upgraded 21st Century track! Long, welded lengths of rail on concrete sleepers, on a new roadbed, etc.

Now, I'd love to travel to Mildura like that, but the fact is, so far, the track upgrades have been confined to Werribee- Geelong, Sunshine- Ballarat, Sydenham- Bendigo, and wherever to wherever on the Traralgon line. I have to confess I'm still confused about this, since I thought Connex and First National would have been doing this after the system was privatised, but apparently that wasn't the case.

Anyway, I welcome an upgrade for the Mildura line, but it's going to be a long time before you prick up your ears on that route and think "Hey, no clicketty- clack!"
 
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