New company Wimmera Rail Services could put Stawell back on the passenger rail line

BACK ON TRACK: Stawell could be back on the passenger rail line with Wimmera Rail Services new proposal. Picture: Alice Rennison.
BACK ON TRACK: Stawell could be back on the passenger rail line with Wimmera Rail Services new proposal. Picture: Alice Rennison.

A new passenger rail company could put Stawell back on the passenger rail line. 

Wimmera Rail Services is proposing passenger rail services to be reinstated on a daily basis between Horsham and Ararat before being connected on a direct service to Ballarat. As part of the proposal the reinstated passenger service would also stop at Stawell. 

This would occur during stage two and three of the Rail Services proposal. 

Stage two would include standardising existing rail between Ararat and Ballarat to connect Horsham train services directly to Ballarat. He said the proposed travel time was two hours and eight minutes.

The final stage would upgrade the rail line between Horsham and Ballarat to allow trains to operate at 160 kilometres per hour. 

But the Wimmera Rail Services’ first challenge is to get government funding. 

It comes amid a campaign driven by eight councils, called the Western Rail Project, calling for the return of passenger rail to the Wimmera. 

The Northern Grampians Shire Council (NGSC) was one of the councils that were part of the campaign. 

NGSC mayor Cr Tony Driscoll said "council is proud to be working alongside our surrounding shires in order to advocate for the return of passenger rail to Western Victoria.

“If this initiative is successful, it could have untold benefits for our local community in terms of not only providing enhanced opportunities for Western Victorians to access educational, vocational and medical services, but it also has the potential to expand our growing tourism sector."

A spokesman for Wimmera Rail Services, who cannot be named for privacy reasons, estimates the three staged project would cost $291.8 million.

The final stage of the project is expected to upgrade the train line so trains can run at 160 kilometres an hour. 

Cr Driscoll said “the benefits for the region are clear, and it is now up to the eight councils involved in this project to continue to advocate for the best possible outcome for the people of Western Victoria."