The state government is pushing ahead with the next stage of its freight and rail projects to the north and east of Ararat.
However, Ripon Liberal MP Louise Staley said issues have persisted with the Ararat to Maryborough freight line that was only recently completed, claiming it was a “debacle”.
On Wednesday, the state government announced new rail projects across western Victoria.
A statement from Victorian Transport Minister Jacinta Allan said the government would “provide for the future uplift of passenger services including a fifth daily V/Line service to Ararat, pave the way for additional services to Maryborough and retain the dual-gauge connection between Maryborough and Dunolly to allow future passenger rail to Dunolly”.
The government has also committed to ensuring “a minimum of 42 weekly return freight paths from the Murray Basin region through Ballarat, with the ability to increase to 65 if required via the Ararat and Maryborough loop.”
The plans also include works to “allow greater line speed for freight services within the Ballarat rail corridor by improving track geometry and the removal of congestion points”.
Ms Staley said the government should fix what she said were critical faults with the Ararat to Maryborough freight line and a bottleneck at Ararat’s rail yard.
“The whole network is being slowed down by very low speed limits on the Ararat to Maryborough line and also restrictions further up the line.”
“There is no passing loop for 120 kilometers from Dunolly, effectively restricting it to one train per day.
Ms Staley said Ararat’s rail yard was not ready for the project and residents had contacted her with claims that the level of ballast gravel beneath the tracks was too low in places.
Ms Allan defended the project during Parliament sessions earlier this week, saying the speed limits were set by independent safety authorities.
“We are determined to deliver this project. It has taken a Labor government to deliver this Murray Basin Rail Project, It has taken a Labor government to complete the business case,” she said.
However, later in the month it was reported that the state government had taken back control of parts of the project from V/Line.