Regarding the reopening of the Inglewood - Eaglehawk line, who exactly has dropped the ball on this one? RPV? V/Line? The freight carriers themselves?Responsible Ministers for getting a rocket under this one are Melissa Horne as Minister for Freight & Ports and Minister for Transport Infrastructure in Jacinta Allan. Given Bendigo is her own bailawick one would think the option of also extending passenger services to Marong / Bridgewater would be another reason to support re-opening. The reality is even if MB full standardization were green light today we are facing two grain harvests well above average. So it is an absolute NO BRAINER not to re-open Inglewood Eaglehawk to a fit for purpose 40 - 50 kmh freight speed NOW so as to realize :
Who needs to be lobbying the government to fund this project? Funding for shovel ready projects is being handed out left right and centre at the moment, yet this no brainer of a job seems to be repeatedly ignored.
(i) thousands of totally avoidable road truck grain movements over at least two grain seasons
(ii) allowing 100 export containers a week ex Bridgewater to again use rail at lower cost
(iii) to allow for medium term extension of VLP passenger services to Marong and possibly Bridgewater.
If and when we ever learn of what the Government plans for completion of Murray Basin standardization then the ultimate configuration of Inglewood Eaglehawk can be decided.
Many people wrongly paint this as a choice of either full MB standardization as originally planned, or Manangatang/Sea Lake stay as broad gauge with Inglewood Eaglehawk re-opened.
This is politicians playing politics and "gotcha" tactics.
The issue is to get more freight on rail and that is certainly achieved short term by re-opening Inglewood Eaglehawk, the ultimate configuration of that section as bg, sg or partially dg can be determined in due course and is a secondary following issue. The line is 47kg rail in fair to good condition affordably re-suscitated now with demonstated daily freight traffic all year round, and offering new freight and passenger opportunities in the medium term. Again a NO BRAINER - just get on with it BUT make sure we use gauge convertible sleepers (Wood) in the tie renewals to get it up and running again . Potentially a ten week job, so we need to get moving NOW so grain trains can start using it Southbound from early January 2021 and the container traffic ex Bridgewater attached to the existing Ultima intermodal train from early 2021 also. Plus creates short term jobs and material acquisition for the Bendigo region. WIN more freight on rail on-going, WIN export containers on rail, WIN potential passenger extension to Marong, WIN local post cono job creation Bendigo area. MIA Government action, and we do NOT need to waste taxpayers $ on yet another business case - Bill Hayden's "drovers dog" can see this a winner both short, medium and longer term however the ultimate gauge configuration turns out. Potentially a very valuable restoration to the cross country freight networkl for only around $ 30m approx.