Victorian Public Transport Minister Jacinta Allan has confirmed that the original contractors for the Ararat-Maryborough freight line have been removed from the project.
The line reopened earlier this year after 13 years of sitting idle after works though the Murray Basin Rail Projects, which is jointly funded by the state and federal governments.
The renewed freight line was mean to be a milestone for farmers across north-west Victoria, but it has been hit with claims of slow speed limits, inadequate rail loops and poor work quality.
During a visit to Ararat on Wednesday, Ms Allan said the speed limits on the Ararat-Maryborough line would be raised soon.
“I got quite a thrill as a I came across from Bendigo to see a freight train on that line,” she said.
“There’s further more work to be done to upgrade level crossings so that by August the line can run at 40 kilometers per hour.
“That freight line was been idle for a very long time and represents what the Murray Basin Rail Project is all about: getting more produce onto rail, getting our producers access to markets and supporting jobs in local communities.”
When questioned at a press conference, Ms Allan said the original contractors were no longer working on the project.
“There were concerns about how the contractors were performing and it was determined that the best way to deliver the rest of the project was not to proceed with those arrangements,” she said.
The state government has proceeded with a $130 million Freight-Passenger Rail Separation Project, designed to improve performance for Ararat passenger and freight rail by removing bottlenecks in Ballarat.
Ripon MP Louise Staley said the government had “completely botched” the Maryborough line.
“We have seen trains only being able to travel at 25kph on that corridor; they’re now putting additional money in to fix it,” she said.