More than 110,000 people live in

Western Victoria, with only limited

access to passenger train travel.

A further 60,000 people living in south east South Australia could also benefit from improved connectivity through Victoria to provincial and capital cities.

Regional Councils have recognised the need for improved public passenger services for many years. A recent detailed study commissioned by eight Western Victorian Councils proved there is significant demand for improved public transport and linkages to Ballarat and Melbourne.

The Western Rail Project is seeking:

  • More passenger rail services between Ararat and Melbourne
  • The return of passenger rail services to other parts of Western Victoria, including Horsham and Hamilton
  • Extra coach services to improve connections between road and rail services
  • Upgrades to all operating rail stations in Western Victoria to ensure they are accessible to disabled and elderly people.

What are we seeking?

Stage 1 (2017-2019)
  • Increase Ararat to Melbourne passenger train services from three to four daily services, including a new early morning train to Melbourne and a return afternoon train.
  • Ballarat line upgrades to allow five weekday return trains between Melbourne and Ararat.
  • New weekend coach services to Casterton and Mount Gambier.
  • Coach services improvements for Balmoral, Cavendish, Coleraine, Dunkeld and Lake Bolac.
  • Tourist-friendly coach schedules to boost tourism business opportunities.
  • An extra mid-morning and mid-afternoon return coach service between Hamilton and Ballarat daily.
  • Improved coach timetabling to better link with train services.
Stage 2 (2021-2026)
  • Reinstate passenger rail services to Horsham and Hamilton from 2023.
  • Convert the railway between Ararat and Ballarat from broad to standard gauge.
  • Provide six daily return train services to Ararat, four to Horsham and three to Hamilton. These would connect at Ballarat with direct trains to and from Melbourne.
  • Provide the option for some trains to extend to Geelong or Melbourne.
  • Ensure Horsham trains service the communities of Stawell and Murtoa.
  • Ensure Hamilton trains service Willaura, Glenthompson and Dunkeld.

What will this cost?

Stage 1 has a capital cost of $200,000, with stage 2 costed at $369 million. These investments are spread over several years and will generate employment opportunities and broader economic and social investments.

Stage 1 capital cost $200,000
Stage 1 operating cost per annum $1.4 million

Stage 2 capital cost:
  • Ballarat to Ararat $110 million
  • Ararat to Horsham $107 million
  • Ararat to Hamilton $92 million
  • Additional rolling stock $60 million
Stage 2 operating cost per annum $6.1 million

Why are we doing this?

Western Victorian passenger services are the worst in the state. The return of passenger rail to Western Victoria is a genuine game-changer for our communities and for our state.

It will ensure greater equity of access for the region’s 110,000 residents whilst generating important economic and social benefits.

Specific benefits include:

  • Better and more equitable access to employment opportunities, health, education and training
  • Improved social connectedness
  • Greatly improved access to our region’s important tourism destinations, many of which are not currently accessible by public transport
  • Improved public transport between the regional centres of Horsham, Ararat, Hamilton, Ballarat and Geelong
  • Faster, more reliable and comfortable links with Ballarat, Geelong and Melbourne.