Mildura railway line

The Mildura railway line is a heavy rail line in northwestern Victoria, Australia. The line runs from Yelta station to Ballarat station via the settlements of Mildura, Ouyen and Maryborough in an approximate south-southeasterly direction. Initial sections of the line opened from Ballarat in 1874 and the line reached Mildura in 1903.

The line is primarily utilised by freight services. V/Line passenger services also operate on the line between Maryborough and Ballarat.


The Mildura line was opened from Ballarat to Creswick, Clunes, Maryborough and Dunolly in 1874 and 1875, and extended to St Arnaud in 1878, Donald in 1882, Birchip in 1893, Woomelang in 1899, Ouyen, Red Cliffs and Mildura in 1903, Merbein in 1910 and Yelta in 1925.

A line was opened from Ballarat to Waubra in the 1880s. It closed in the 1960s.

A branch line was built from North Creswick to Daylesford in 1887, connecting with the line from Carlsruhe. It had stations at Broomfield, Allendale, Newlyn, Rocklyn, Wombat, Leonard, Sailor’s Falls and Woodburn. This line closed in 1953.

A line was opened from Maryborough to connect with the Melbourne–Bendigo line at Castlemaine in 1874. This line is not currently used by regular traffic.

Another branch line was opened from Maryborough to Avoca in 1876 and Ben Nevis and Ararat in 1890. This line was closed in 1959, reopened in 1966, standardised in 1996 and closed again in 2005. The Navarre line opened from Ben Nevis to Navarre in 1914 and it was closed in 1954.

A line was opened from Dunolly to Inglewood in 1888, connecting with the BendigoBoort line, completed in 1883.

The Pinnaroo line (Victoria) opened from Ouyen to Murrayville in 1912 and the South Australian border in 1915, connecting with the Pinnaroo line (South Australia) to Pinnaroo and Tailem Bend. The Genesee & Wyoming Australia line west of Pinnaroo was standardised in 1998 creating a break-of-gauge. Nevertheless, it is proposed to standardise the line from Geelong to Mildura and the line between Ouyen and Pinnaroo. In 2006, state and federal money was announced to upgrade the line to Mildura with gauge convertible sleepers. However, this upgrade will still leave the passenger service in limbo.

The Morkalla line was completed from Red Cliffs to Meringur in the 1920s and extended to Morkalla in the 1930s. This line closed in the 1980s. A 2 km section of the line near Red Cliffs has been converted to a 610 mm-gauge steam railway, operated occasionally by the Red Cliffs Historical Steam Railway (see Victorian Tourism).

In 1923, a series of sidings were placed between the Mildura station and the wharves on the Murray River. These included a zig-zag section to enable trains to travel between the different elevations. These sidings were removed in 1973.[1]

A passenger service was provided by V/Line with three weekly overnight services from Melbourne (known as The Vinelander), including sleeping cars, until 1993 when it was discontinued by the Kennett Government.[2] The former Bracks/Brumby Governments promised to re-open this line to passenger traffic as part of its pledges for the 1999, 2002, 2006 elections. They also pledged the reopening of Clunes station in the 2010 election.

In December 2007 work began on upgrading the line between Gheringhap (on the Geelong–Ballarat line and Mildura, at a cost of $73 million and involving one in every two sleepers being replaced, and lifting maximum train speeds to 80 km/h.[3] Current speeds are restricted to 50 km/h on one-third of the track and are as low as 30 km/h in some sections.[4] In April 2008 it was announced that the Mildura–Yelta section of the line would also be upgraded, as part of the Victorian core grain network in a $23.7 million package with 6 other lines.[5]

As part of upgrades for the return of Maryborough passenger services, the crossing loops at Sulky, Tourello and Talbot stations have been removed, resulting in only one train at a time being able to use the 60 kilometres of line between Ballarat and Maryborough.[6] The loop at Sulky was removed on 12 February, the loop at Talbot on 24 February.[7]

In October 2010, the Victorian government released a report into public transport improvement options for the north-west of Victoria, outlining nine proposals for public transport projects. Options discussed include the return of passenger trains on the existing line, or via an extension of the Yungera line to connect to the Mildura line at Ouyen.[8][9]

Passenger services were reintroduced from Ballarat to Maryborough in July 2010, after a 13-year absence.[10][11]

The line closed in August 2017 north of Dunolly for conversion to standard gauge as part of the Murray Basin Rail Project.[12] It reopened gradually from February 2018 with maximum axle load lifted to 21 tonnes and line speed increased to 80km/h.[13]


The main freight traffic on the line is export grain and containerised wine, grapes, citrus, dried fruit and juice, totalling around 1.5 million tonnes per year. Containers are dispatched to Melbourne from a terminal at Merbein (a short distance north of Mildura) operated by Wakefield Transport,[14] which handles approximately 13,000 export containers a year, as well as 500 import containers.[15] Cement is also despatched to Mildura from Waurn Ponds, oil and less than container load (LCL) freight were carried until 2007.[16] A freight terminal also exists at Donald, and grain services run as required.

Maryborough services

In December 2008 as part of the Victorian Transport Plan the state government announced that V/Line rail passenger services would be extended from Ballarat to Maryborough station at a cost of $50 million,[17] commencing 25 July 2010.[18] Initially Creswick was to be the only intermediate station,[19][20] until June 2010 when the government announced $7 million in funding to also reopen Clunes.[21] Talbot also reopened in December 2013.

Two services on weekdays and one service on weekends in each direction operate as a shuttle between Maryborough and Ballarat, stopping at all operating stations. At Ballarat, all terminating services connect to an Ararat or Ballarat service towards Melbourne, and all originating services bound for Maryborough connects to a service from Melbourne.

Line guide

Maryborough V/Line Service
0.0 km
Southern Cross
Zone 1
5.6 km
Zone 1
12.3 km
Zone 1/2
15.1 km
Zone 2
17.9 km
Deer Park
Zone 2
21.2 km
Caroline Springs
Zone 2
30.2 km
Zone 2
41.3 km
Zone 2
52.9 km
Bacchus Marsh
Zone 2
79.5 km
Zone 4
113.8 km
Zone 8
132.9 km
Zone 9
151.1 km
Zone 11
168.3 km
Zone ??
182.5 km
Zone 14
Standard timetabled journey from Southern Cross.
Some services run express to Ballarat.
Mildura railway line
Serviceton line to Melbourne
at North Ballarat Junction
123.6 km
Waubra Junction
125.3 km
128.4 km
Bald Hills
133.0 km
134.9 km
North Creswick
Daylesford line
146.3 km
151.0 km
168.4 km
174.8 km
Daisy Hill

Dual Gauge track between Maryborough
and under construction

Avoca line towards Ararat
182.5 km
Moolort line

MaryboroughDunolly standardized in 1996
Dunolly – Yelta standardized in 2018

189.4 km
194.6 km
197.3 km
Bet Bet
204.6 km
Robinvale line
211.1 km
224.1 km
236.2 km
245.8 km
257.7 km
St Arnaud
268.9 km
276.4 km
284.0 km
Cope Cope
296.1 km
302.8 km
311.2 km
319.8 km
328.3 km
336.1 km
Morton Plains
348.0 km
363.5 km
368.9 km
380.3 km
390.6 km
402.2 km
410.9 km
421.6 km
428.4 km
434.9 km
443.4 km
453.0 km
459.0 km
467.3 km
475.9 km
489.0 km
501.5 km
528.3 km
528.3 km
536.6 km
551.2 km
553.5 km
Red Cliffs
561.1 km
567.8 km
579.0 km
583.7 km
Merbein West
588.2 km

See also


  1. ^ “Mildura’s Riverfront Railways” Australian Railway Historical Society Bulletin February 1978 pages 33–38
  2. ^ “The Mildura Story The Battle of the Routes” (PDF). Royal Historical Society of Victoria. Retrieved 30 August 2008.
  3. ^ “WORKS BEGIN ON MILDURA RAIL FREIGHT UPGRADE”. Retrieved 27 April 2008.
  4. ^ “Roads, ports and freight – Mildura Rail Freight Upgrade – Frequently asked questions”. Retrieved 27 April 2008.
  5. ^ “$43m to upgrade rail freight lines”. Retrieved 27 April 2008.
  7. ^ “Signalling and Infrastructure” Railway Digest May 2010 page 56
  8. ^ Victorian Government press release—”NORTH WEST PUBLIC TRANSPORT REVIEW REPORT RELEASED”, 13 October 2010
  9. ^ North West Public Transport Review
  10. ^ “V/Line Annual Report 2009-2010” (PDF). V/Line Pty Ltd. September 2010. p. 7.
  11. ^ “Transport Projects – Maryborough Rail Services”. Department of Transport website. Department of Transport. Retrieved 2 July 2011.
  12. ^ Probert, Oliver (1 August 2017). “Murray Basin upgrades begin”. Rail Express. Retrieved 18 February 2018.
  13. ^ DiFabrizio, Michael (14 February 2018). “Birchip stretch in train”. Sunraysia Daily. Retrieved 18 February 2018.
  14. ^ “Roads, ports and freight – Intermodal terminals”. Archived from the original on 4 June 2009. Retrieved 1 August 2008.
  15. ^ “Melbourne–Mildura Corridor Strategy” (PDF). Building our National Transport Future. Department of Transport and Regional Services. June 2007. Archived from the original (PDF) on 27 October 2009. Retrieved 3 November 2009.
  16. ^ “Wongm’s Rail Gallery – Mildura freight”. Retrieved 3 November 2009.
  17. ^ “Maryborough Rail Extension Projects”. Victorian Transport Plan. Archived from the original on 26 December 2008. Retrieved 8 December 2008.
  18. ^ “Maryborough Rail Services”. Victorian Transport Plan. Retrieved 5 July 2010.
  19. ^ KIM STEPHENS (7 October 2009). “Call to explain Clunes’ omission from rail plan”. The Courier. Retrieved 15 June 2010.
  20. ^ EMMA BROWN (11 October 2009). “No plans for Clunes train”. The Courier. Retrieved 15 June 2010.
  21. ^ “READY FOR TOMORROW: $19 MILLION TO RETURN PASSENGER RAIL TO CLUNES AND IMPROVE NORTH-WEST FREIGHT RAIL LINKS”. Media Release: Premier of Victoria. June 2010. Archived from the original on 18 June 2010. Retrieved 15 June 2010.

External links