The re-opening of disused railway stations at Carisbrook and Newstead will be examined by the Victorian Government as it launches a feasibility study into returning passenger trains between Geelong, Ballarat and Bendigo.
Minister for Public Transport Terry Mulder this week announced that work has started to examine the long term feasibility of returning passenger trains between the state’s second, third and fourth largest cities.
The rail link would take in Maryborough along with Castlemaine and Meredith.
The Rail Revival Study will also investigate the feasibility of re-opening the line between Maryborough and Castlemaine for regular passenger services, taking in the stations at Carisbrook and Newstead, and enhancing passenger services between Ballarat and Maryborough.
In separate works, the stations at Clunes and Talbot will be re-opened on the Maryborough to Ballarat line.
Mr Mulder said the study was being carried out with part of the $2 million funding provided in the May 2011 State Budget, with contracts now awarded to a number of specialist consultants.
“This two year study is a key step in linking Geelong, Ballarat, Maryborough, Castlemaine and Bendigo by train,” Mr Mulder said.
“The consultants will examine existing and future passenger rail infrastructure including stations, passing loops and signalling, and local residents’ views will be important.
“The study includes railway station inspections, cultural, heritage and environmental investigations, infrastructure assessment and public transport planning,” Mr Mulder said.
The Department of Transport will work closely with local councils as part of the study to identify key challenges and priorities for communities in the region.
The Maryborough to Castlemaine line was opened in 1874 and passenger services continued until 1978.
In 2004 services over the line between Maldon Junction and Moolort were suspended and today the section between Castlemaine and Maldon Junction is currently used as part of the Victorian Goldfields Railway between Castlemaine and Maldon.
Central Goldfields Shire mayor Chris Meddows-Taylor said the rail link was very exciting for the Central Goldfields.
“Council will be working with them to maximise this opportunity,” Cr Meddows-Taylor said.
While Cr Meddows-Taylor said many of the objectives were in the long term, a number of short term benefits would be worked on, mainly improving transport connections.
“As well as long term goals we will look at improvements to transport connections — especially people coming into Maryborough,” he said.
“Also look at what we can do to improve connectivity into the shire, especially from Bendigo and Ballarat.
“In the long term we want to get that line open but in the short term we can improve transport connections.”
The feasibility study is expected to be completed mid next year.