The old Heathcote line isn't a likely candidate IMO. Too much line to be rebuilt, rubbish curves & grades (the line is mostly 1-in-50 grades, some curves are as tight as 20 chains) and much of the alignment has been sold off and is no longer controlled by VicTrack at all.
If Inland Rail goes via Shepparton (who knows any more, IR may as well not be happening at the moment
) then a connection from the Tocumwal line to Bendigo could be done by rebuilding the old Murchison East - Colbinabbin line
, building a new extension of that line to Goornong on the Echuca line and then running dual gauge track into Bendigo until you reach your freight customers.
VicTrack still owns ~95% of the Colbinabbin Line alignment, it's currently leased out as a rail trail. The grades are pretty flat and the line extension is pretty logical (almost a straight line between Colbinabbin and Goornong).
But you need to find some customers first. SSR North Bendigo isn't going to be enough, you'll need something resembling a regular freight service, even if it's weekly. That's where the City of Greater Bendigo has to come in and make some decisions.
Now, as for the actual news article... it's basically: