Western standard gauge line

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Western standard gauge
Type V/Line passenger service
System Freight and The Overland
Connecting lines Portland, Hopetoun and Yaapeet lines
Former connections Bolangum and Carpolac lines
Commenced 1889
Completed 1995 (in current form)
Number of tracks Single track, crossing loops
Route map

The Western standard gauge is a railway line in western Victoria, Australia. Opened in 1995, it forms part of the Melbourne–Adelaide railway and serves as the principal interstate rail link between Victoria and the western states. The line replaced a number of former broad gauge routes which were gauge converted, and today sees both intrastate and interstate freight traffic, as well as the twice weekly (in each direction) The Overland passenger service. Major towns on the route include Geelong, Ararat, Horsham and Dimboola.


The first inter-capital link between Melbourne and South Australia was completed in 1887 when the Victorian Railways line was extended to Serviceton on the state border.[1] Known as the Serviceton line, it passed through Geelong, Ballarat, Ararat, Stawell, Horsham and Dimboola, on the way west. It was not until 1889 that a direct Melbourne – Ballarat link was opened.[2]

In the 1970s most interstate lines in Australia began to be converted to standard gauge. By the 1990s Adelaide to Melbourne was the only interstate link not converted, and so various proposals were made for gauge conversion. Two main options were put forward:

  • via Ballarat: A new track or dual gauge to Ballarat, then conversion of the line west.
  • via Geelong: A new track to Geelong, dual gauge to Gheringhap, then conversion of the line via Cressy, and then conversion of the line from Ararat.

Various reasons for given for and against both routes. The Geelong was longer, but avoided the steep grades on the line though Ballarat. Businesses and industry in both cities also wanted to be on the main interstate link. In the end it was decided to build the route via Geelong, and work was completed in 1995 with funding from the Federal Government One Nation program. Along with the gauge conversion of the interstate line, the Portland, Yaapeet and Hopetoun lines were also converted, and a dual gauge link provided to Maryborough to permit grain from the north-west to reach the port at Portland.


The line is standard gauge, except for dual gauge on the Newport – Sunshine freight line, and where it follows the Geelong – Ballarat line. It is single track throughout, with numerous 1500 metre long crossing loops.[3] The majority of the line uses Centralised Traffic Control to direct trains, except for the Gheringhap to Maroona section which uses the Section Authority System,[4] a Victoria-only radio token based safeworking system developed in the 1980s. The line is owned by VicTrack and since 1997 has been managed by the Australian Rail Track Corporation.[5]


The main traffic on the line is Melbourne – Adelaide interstate freight, with trains operated by Aurizon, Pacific National and SCT Logistics. Grain services are also operated on an irregular basis by Pacific National and Genesee & Wyoming Australia.[6]

A local container freight service also operates from Melbourne to Horsham by SCT Logistics for Wimmera Container Lines.[7] Until July 2008 it was operated by Pacific National, who cancelled it in April then gave it a three-month reprieve.[8][9] Aurizon and Qube operated the Horsham service until 2014, when it was replaced by SCT's Doeen service, which is where the new container terminal open. For number of months, both services operated until the Horsham terminal closed down. The only passenger service is The Overland twice weekly (formerly thrice weekly until 2013 due to dropping numbers).[citation needed]


The line leaves the North East standard gauge line at Tottenham, then runs south via the dual gauged Newport – Sunshine freight line. From Newport a separate line is provided to the west of the Geelong line as far as North Geelong Junction, where the line joins the dual gauged Geelong – Ballarat north as far as Gheringhap Loop. From here line follows the gauge converted Gheringhap – Maroona line westward until it meets the Portland line, and heads north to Ararat where it rejoins the former main line.

Blue is standard gauge, red is broad gauge. Bold are active passenger platforms.

Western standard gauge[10]
Southern Cross
South Dynon
West Footscray Junction
Tottenham Junction(North East SG)
Dual gauge Newport–Sunshine line
CRT Group depot
SCT depot
21 km Laverton Loop
36.80 km Manor Loop
67 km North Shore
North Geelong and Grain Loop
BG towards Geelong
Dual gauge Geelong–Ballarat line
To Ballarat
83 km Gheringhap Loop
Wingeel Loop
Berrybank Loop
Vite Vite Loop
Tatyoon Loop
Portland line
244 km Maroona
V/Line Ararat service towards Ballarat
Avoca line to Maryborough
265 km Ararat
Pyrenees Loop
Great Western Loop
240 km Stawell
Deep Lead Loop
Lubeck Loop
305 km Murtoa
Hopetoun line
Murtoa Loop
Horsham Cut-off (proposed)
327 km Horsham
Pimpinio Loop
362 km Dimboola
Yaapeet line
Dimboola Loop
Salisbury Loop
400 km Nhill
Diapur Loop
Kaniva Loop
Leeor Loop
462 km Serviceton
462 km State border
470 km Wolseley
to Adelaide


  1. ^ "ARHS Railway Museum: History 1839–1900". www.railwaymuseum.org.au. Retrieved 2008-03-27. 
  2. ^ "VR History". www.victorianrailways.net. Retrieved 2008-03-27. 
  3. ^ "Appendix II Interstate Network Overview" (PDF). ARTC – Access Seeker Network Configuration and Description. www.artc.com.au. Retrieved 2008-03-28. 
  4. ^ "VICSIG: Western SG Line". vicsig.net. Retrieved 2008-03-28. 
  5. ^ "ARHS Railway Museum: History 1950 – now". www.railwaymuseum.org.au. Retrieved 2008-03-28. 
  6. ^ "Operators, Trains and Train Numbers". members.wimmera.com.au. Retrieved 2008-07-30. 
  7. ^ "Rail to roll on". Wimmera Mail Times. yourguide.com.au. 28 July 2008. Retrieved 2008-07-30. 
  8. ^ "Rail freight woes spark crisis of confidence". ABC News. www.abc.net.au. Retrieved 2008-07-16. 
  9. ^ "Three month extension for Wimmera rail freight services". ABC News. www.abc.net.au. 24 April 2008. Retrieved 2008-07-16. 
  10. ^ "ARTC Network in Victoria" (PDF). ARTC – Access Seeker Network Configuration and Description. www.artc.com.au. Retrieved 2008-03-28.