By Sian Johnson
The Warrnambool Standard

All aboard: Hamilton could see the return of passenger rail if a $369 million proposal progresses. The last passenger train left Hamilton in 1981.

A proposal to return multiple daily passenger rail services to Hamilton within seven years, flagged by Wannon MP Dan Tehan, has been backed by a study.

The $369 million project, which would also return passenger rail to Horsham and improve coach services across western Victoria, was recommended in a report commissioned by eight councils including Southern Grampians and Glenelg.

The proposal would see three daily return services to Hamilton from 2023, with stops at Willaura, Glenthompson and Dunkeld.

Improvements to the Ballarat and Ararat lines, the conversion of track between the two cities from broad to standard gauge and the upgrade of 77 level crossings would be needed to accommodate the change.

The report found the proposal would lead to social and economic development in the Grampians and Barwon south west regions by improving access to health services, employment and education and training, as well as tourist access to attractions such as the Grampians.

Southern Grampians Shire chief executive officer Michael Tudball said the achievable proposal would open up many possibilities.

“This is intergenerational investment, like someone laying the tracks in the first place,” he said.

He said recent government investment in regional rail gave the shire hope.

Last week Mr Tehan said federal funding of a $1.5 billion Victorian regional rail package would pave the way for Hamilton passenger rail.

“This is intergenerational investment, like someone laying the tracks in the first place,” he said.

Michael Tudball