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Serviceton railway line

The Serviceton railway line (also known as the Western line) is a railway serving the west of Victoria, Australia, that links the state capital of Melbourne to the cities of Ballarat and Ararat, and once extended to the South Australian border as part of the Melbourne–Adelaide railway. In this role it has been replaced by the Western standard gauge line.

TypeV/Line passenger service
SystemV/Line passenger services to Ballarat and Ararat, freight and The Overland beyond
Connecting linesGeelong-Ballarat, Mildura, Portland, Avoca, Hopetoun and Yaapeet lines
Former connectionsBuninyong, Skipton, Bolangum and Carpolac lines
Completedto South Australian border in 1887
Number of tracksSingle 1,600 mm (5 ft 3 in) (broad gauge) to Ararat, 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) (standard gauge) beyond


Metro Trains Melbourne operates suburban passenger train services along the inner section of the line as far as Sunshine on the Sunbury Line, while V/Line services operate as the Interurban Ballarat Line and the Intercity Ararat Line. During peak hour some services originate and terminate at Bacchus Marsh. Passengers on the inner section of the line to Melton are permitted to use Myki tickets to access the services, with this section marked as the Melton line on suburban network maps. Beyond Ararat the line is part of the Western standard gauge line and sees The Overland to Adelaide.

Freight services also use the line between Ballarat and Melbourne, coming off the Mildura line. The Western standard gauge also sees a large number of interstate freight trains as part of the Melbourne–Adelaide railway.

On 16 July 2014, the Serviceton railway line ceased calling at North Melbourne station due to the Regional Rail Link and separation of tracks between Melbourne metropolitan and Regional trains. In January 2017 Caroline Springs station opened.


Serviceton railway station on the state border

The first railway line from Melbourne to Ballarat was via Geelong. Construction of the Geelong-Ballarat line began in 1858 and took nearly four years to complete. The project employed 3,000 men and cost approximately 1.5 million pounds. The line officially opened in 1862, with the first train running on 10 April—at a rate of 15 miles per hour—taking around four and a half hours to reach Geelong, amid various complications, including the inability to pull up a hill and the lack of firewood. The return trip commenced at 12:20 pm, arriving in Ballarat at 3 pm.[1]

The line was extended from Ballarat to Beaufort in 1874 and to Ararat in 1875. It took until 1889 for a direct line from Melbourne to Ballarat to be opened, in part due to the difficult terrain between Bacchus Marsh and Ballan.

Up until 1995 the line through Ballarat was the main route for freight trains between Melbourne and Adelaide, as well as The Overland services to Adelaide, and V/Line services to Horsham and Dimboola. V/Line passenger rail services beyond Ballarat were withdrawn on 27 May 1994,[2] and in 1995 the One Nation Program rerouted the main interstate line via North Shore and Maroona and the broad gauge line between Ballarat and Ararat was closed to all traffic. The broad gauge passenger service from Ballarat to Ararat was not reinstated until 2004.

Work began in 2005 on upgrades between Sunshine and Ballarat as part of the Regional Fast Rail project, which saw heavier tracks and concrete sleepers installed, renewal of ballast and a new signalling system. A number of deviations were built to ease curves on the line, as well as seven new bridges, with the Lal Lal Creek and Moorabool River bridges amongst the longest in Australia.[3] The works were completed and the first VLocity train ran on the line on 22 December 2005.[4]

As part of the Transit Cities program, a new station was opened at Wendouree on 14 June 2009.[5][6]

In June 2008 Pacific National and grain handler GrainCorp announced they would cease rail freight operations on the Yaapeet to Dimboola line. The decision was based on the Rail Freight Network Review chaired by former Deputy Prime Minister Tim Fischer, which placed the Yaapeet line at the lowest level of investment priority. As a result, farmers at Rainbow, Jeparit and Yaapeet must truck their grain to GrainCorp's Warracknabeal grain centre instead of the Rainbow depot. A local council attacked the plan as it would result in the need to upgrade roads in the area.[7]

Branch lines and extensionsEdit

V/Line VLocity train at the junction with the Melbourne-Ballarat line at Warrenheip station
Clocktower at Ballarat station

Ballarat regionEdit

A branch line was built from Ballarat to Newtown and Skipton in 1883. This line closed in 1985. A branch was built between Newtown, Cressy and Irrewarra (east of Colac) about 1910. This line was closed in 1953.

A branch line was built from Linton junction to the Ballarat Cattle Yards and Redan in 1886. This line was closed in 1997.

Ararat and western branchesEdit

Horsham-Carpolac rail ticket 1978

The line was extended from Ballarat to Beaufort in 1874 and Ararat in 1875, Stawell in 1876, Murtoa in 1878, Horsham in 1882, Dimboola in 1882 and linked with the South Australian Railways at Serviceton in 1887.

Until 1993, two daily broad gauge V/Line trains ran from Melbourne to Dimboola as well as the nightly The Overland service from Melbourne to Adelaide. Under the Kennett Government's economic reforms, the V/Line train service was then cut back to Ararat. The Ballarat to Ararat section was closed in 1994 with gauge standardisation of the line, which made reinstatement of a V/Line service beyond Ararat virtually impossible.

The Overland service was re-routed via Maroona after the works were complete, while the broad gauge passenger service from Ballarat to Ararat was not reinstated until 2004.

A branch line was built from Stawell to Grampians station in the 1880s, but it was closed in the 1930s.

A branch line was built from Lubeck (between Stawell and Murtoa) to Rupanyup in the 1890 and extended to Marnoo by 1910 and Bolangum in the 1920s. It closed in 1983.

A branch line was opened from Murtoa to Warracknabeal in 1886 and extended to Beulah in 1893, Roseberry and Hopetoun in 1894 and Patchewollock in the 1920s. The section from Hopetoun to Patchewollock was closed in the 1980s. The line from Murtoa to Hopetoun was converted to standard gauge in 1995. It has not carried passengers for many years and grain services between Roseberry to Hopetoun were suspended in 2005.

A branch line was completed between Horsham, East Natimuk and Noradjuha in the 1880s and extended to Balmoral by 1920. This was connected to Cavendish and Hamilton in the 1920s. The line from Noradjuha to Hamilton was closed in 1979. A branch was built from East Natimuk to Carpolac in 1894. This line and the branch to Noradjuha were closed in 1986.

A branch was opened from Dimboola to Jeparit in 1894 and extended to Rainbow in 1899 and Yaapeet in 1914. The line was converted to standard gauge in 1995. The line was deemed un-usable after severe flooding in January 2011. An announcement was made in September 2011 by the Victorian Government, that they would contribute $5.3 million to restoring the line from Dimboola to Rainbow.

Another branch line was opened from Jeparit to Yanac by 1920, closing in 1986.

Ararat southwardsEdit

A line was built from Ararat to Portland in 1877, via Maroona, Hamilton, and Heywood. A number of branch lines were built from this line, none of which are in use today. This line was converted to standard gauge in 1995.

A line was opened from Gheringhap on the Geelong – Ballarat line to Cressy and Maroona in 1913. This was converted to standard gauge in 1995 and became the Western standard gauge line between Melbourne and Perth.

Line GuideEdit

Serviceton line
0 km
Southern Cross
1.7 km
North Melbourne
4.9 km
Sunbury Line service
12.3 km
Kororoit Creek
15.1 km
16 km
Nobel/ICI factory (closed)
17.8 km
Deer Park
19.2 km
Deer Park West (proposed)[8]
21 km
Deer Park Boral Siding
21.3 km
Caroline Springs
27.8 km
RMSP No.64 (closed)
30.2 km
31.2 km
Cockbills Siding (closed)
34.4 km
34.6 km
RMSP No.65 (closed)
41.3 km
End of Melton Line service
42.6 km
Staughton Siding (closed)
45.7 km
Parwan Loop
47.1 km
Parwan (closed)
49.9 km
Bacchus Marsh works siding (closed)
50.9 km
Bacchus Marsh
51.4 km
Maddingley Brown Coal Sidings
53.9 km
Maddingley Racecourse[9]
55 km
Rowsley Loop
55 km
Rowsley (closed)
51.4 km
Dog Trap Gully Siding
64.8 km
Bank Box Loop
65.2 km
Bank Box (closed)
72.4 km
Ingliston (closed)
79.5 km
81.7 km
RMSP No.71 (closed)
83.7 km
Bradshaw/RMSP No.77 2nd (closed)
86.2 km
Llandeilo (closed)
86.5 km
RMSP No.77 1st (closed)
87.3 km
Portland Flat Road
adjacent heritage bridge & abandoned track
91.2 km
Gordon (closed) (Station preserved by ARHS)
92.1 km
RMSP No.40 (closed)
93.3 km
RMSP No.72 (closed)
93.6 km
Bungaree East Junction
92.4 km
Millbrook (closed)
98.6 km
Holden's Siding (closed)
Moorabool River (west branch)
98.9 km
Wallace (closed)
Lal Lal Creek
100.4 km
Bungaree Loop (abolished)
105.9 km
Bungaree Racecourse
measured via Bungaree
102.9 km
Bungaree (closed)
103.8 km
RMSP No.73 (closed)
101.8 km
Bungaree West Junction
(106.8 km via North Line & Bungaree)[10]
103.6 km
Dunnstown (closed)
107.2 km
Warrenheip (closed) (148.8km via North Geelong)
111.3 km
RMSP No.74 (closed)[11]
112.5 km
Buninyong line (closed)
113.1 km
Ballarat East (closed)
113.8 km
End of Ballarat Line service
115.1 km
North Ballarat (closed)
116.6 km
White's Siding (closed)
117.4 km
Wendouree (original site)
118.1 km
Linton Junction and Skipton line (closed)
Ballarat Cattle Yards line
120.3 km
Dowling (closed)[12]
Via post-RFR Ballan line
129.3 km
Windermere (closed)
134.6 km
Burrumbeet (closed)
151.9 km
Trawalla (closed)
159.8 km
172.2 km
Middle Creek (closed)[13]
182.6 km
Buangor (closed)
193.1 km
Dobie (closed)[14]
Avoca line to Maryborough & Western standard gauge line
via Maroona, Gheringhap & Geelong to Melbourne
205.8 km
End of Ararat Line service
Serviceton line beyond Ararat
converted to standard gauge in 1995
Pyrenees Loop
214.6 km
223.1 km
Great Western
Great Western Loop
236.4 km
Grampians line
244.0 km
Deep Lead
Deep Lead Loop
256.5 km
267.0 km
Wal Wal
Lubeck Loop
276.6 km
Bolangum line
294.7 km
Hopetoun line
Murtoa Loop
Horsham Bypass (proposed)
304.0 km
314.0 km
322.0 km
Carpolac line
338.5 km
Pimpinio Loop
347.8 km
356.9 km
Yaapeet line
Dimboola Loop
375.2 km
Gerang Gerung
381.2 km
Salisbury Loop
385.2 km
395.3 km
405.2 km
Diapur Loop
412.2 km
423.9 km
Kaniva Loop
433.5 km
443.2 km
Leeor Loop
456.8 km
463.8 km
465.0 km

References in popular cultureEdit

The Tom Waits song Town With No Cheer from the 1982 album Swordfishtrombones refers to Serviceton, the Overland train that ran from Melbourne to Adelaide, and the railway line's disuse[15]


  1. ^ "Ballarat Australia History – Rail Heritage". Ballarat History Central.
  2. ^ – VR Timeline
  3. ^ "Transport planning and projects – Regional Fast Rail". State Government of Victoria, Department of Infrastructure. 15 May 2006.
  4. ^ V/Line – First Day of VLocity Revenue Operation (Ballarat) Archived 18 May 2007 at
  5. ^ "Public transport – Regional railway station projects". State Government of Victoria, Department of Infrastructure. 21 September 2007. Archived from the original on 4 June 2009.
  6. ^ "'Wendouree' to be new station name". The Courier. 20 August 2007. Retrieved 12 May 2018.
  7. ^ "Council slams rail line plans". Wimmera Mail Times. 20 June 2008. Retrieved 2 July 2008.
  8. ^ Compare platforms & gantries relative to gantry for signals SA681/NA681 at'76.htm &
  9. ^
  10. ^'2013.pdf
  11. ^ p.21
  12. ^ The Golden Steam of Ballarat, King, D & Dooley, N, 1973
  13. ^ Maryborough-Avoca-Ararat railway: a brief history, Turton, K W, McLean, D C
  14. ^ Maryborough-Avoca-Ararat railway: a brief history, Turton, K W, McLean, D C
  15. ^ Tom Waits. "Town With No Cheer". Retrieved 22 January 2015.

External linksEdit