The track between Ararat and Horsham is better than Ballarat to Ararat.
As for crossing loops, there is sufficient for the number of trains. The freight trains go in to one of five loops for the passenger to go past. We are talking about one hour and fifteen of sharing a track with the freight. Compare that with the extravagance of having 90 klms of track maintained at 130 klm speed for just a few railcars per day - that I call a scandalous waste of money. At least having gauge conversion and a longer distance train, the Ballarat - Ararat section is easier to justify.
Currently freight trains are held up at Pyrenees Loop, just out of Ararat to wait for the V/line Velocity to cross over the track. It would be no big difference to cross the passenger trains.
Happy to be corrected, but my understanding from previous times this idea has been proposed, is that while the track itself is obviously of a very high standard, there would need to be signalling upgrades to allow trains to travel at 130. Not so much a question of better or worse, just what kind of traffic it's set up for. As I said, happy to be corrected though.
The assumption is that freight would go into crossing loops for passenger services, but I guess my point was, that's a highly important freight line and we'd be shooting ourselves in the foot if we added passenger services but made all the freight on that section a lot slower/less frequent, because pax are suddenly the higher priority for pathing. So I was thinking more loops might be needed to avoid that - but again, I haven't figured out the timings so I may be wrong there.