Mount Gambier Line
The broad gauge railway line between Mount Gambier and Heywood was used extensively until the mid 1990s to transport timber products between plantations near Mount Gambier to the port of Portland in Victoria.
In 1995 the line between Ararat and Portland was converted to Standard Gauge in conjunction with the main line between Melbourne and Adelaide. The Heywood to Mount Gambier branch however was not included as part of the standardisation process and has remained disused ever since leaving timber products to be transported by road instead and no rail access to Mount Gambier. The tracks are now quite overgrown and are in generally poor condition.
There have been various proposals to reopen the line by both Freight Australia who operate freight services on the Broad Gauge network in Victoria and also the Victorian Govenment. However, because part of the line is located in South Australia, the South Australian and Victorian Governments need to work together to ensure that the line is converted to standard gauge and reopened. (Previously the South Australian Government had instead been interested in reconnecting Mount Gambier to the rail network by reopening the alternative route to Wolseley, ensuring freight would instead travel to South Australian ports instead of to Portland in Victoria. However nothing either has come of this.) The poor relationship between Freight Australia and the Victorian Government has resulted in Freight Australia not providing any further investment into the rail network and has stopped any prospect of the Heywood to Mount Gambier Line being reopened in the short term.
The Victorian Government had originally identified the Heywood to Mount Gambier link as one of the last to be gauge converted as part of their rail standardisation program. However as this program which was announced in 2001 has yet to commence in 2004 it appears unlikely that the line will reopen in the near future. Also despite some Auslink funding from the Federal Government for other rail projects, the Heywood to Mount Gambier Line has not received any funding. It remains to be seen whether the possible sale of Freight Australia to Pacific National will increase the prospects of the Heywood to Mount Gambier Line being reopened any time soon.