Four possible sites for train stabling in Sale

A REPORT commissioned by Wellington Shire Council has identified four sites in the Sale area where train stabling could be established.

A site adjacent to the Gippsland Regional Livestock Exchange is the preferred option in the Train Stabling Options Study. 

Two options are around the Sale train station, and another at Wurruk.

Council engaged a consultant to provide a report to identify options for a site suitable for overnight stabling and servicing of trains to increase the number of train services to Sale.

The community has long held concerns over the number of train services between Melbourne and Sale, with little improvement of the frequency of services and times.

There are currently three services between Melbourne and Bairnsdale.

Council will use the stabling report to advocate to the state government for funding to establish train stabling infrastructure works to allow for upgrades and improved train services to and from Sale.

Councillor Carmel Ripper said more train services would make it easier for residents to travel to work or study outside the shire, as well as attract visitors.

“Jobs, tourism and education, more trains —  they all interconnect,” she said.

The preferred site next to GRLE has an estimated cost of $10.7 million.

This stabling site would occupy a strip of land on the east side of the rail line, beginning about 300 metres north of the Raglan St level crossing, 800m from the train station. 

The layout would include two parallel 200m sidings, with room for future extension of both sidings beyond Dawson St to about 350m in length.

The site is in an industrial area bounded by the saleyards, the former Nylex factory site and the Sale Showgrounds.

According to the report, the site is “operationally advantageous” as trains can move directly between the station and the stabling facility without having to reverse direction.

The second preference is the former freight yard to the east of the Sale train station, costing $8.3 million.

It is 55m from the nearest residential property.

An option west of the station has an estimated cost of $8.2 million, is 30m from the nearest residential property, and may require noise reduction infrastructure.

For both train station sites, existing track infrastructure can be used, but would require shunting movement on the main line.

The most expensive option, at $11.2 million, is at Wurruk, west of the Hunt Place level crossing.

A disadvantage of this site is the requirement to run empty trains to and from the station, occupying the main running line at times when other trains are operating between Traralgon and Sale.

The Gippsland Rail Needs Study, funded by the region’s councils in 2016, identified the Gippsland line as being neglected compared to other Victorian regional main lines, providing inadequate infrastructure and service levels, with poorer journey times, unreliability and infrequency.

Last year, the state government announced a $435 million package for Gippsland rail upgrading, but this did not include an increase in rail passenger services east of Traralgon.

The provision of stabling would be a prerequisite for the daily operation of VLocity trains to and from Sale, particularly early morning services to Melbourne and new mid and late afternoon services.

During a recent visit to Stratford, state Public Transport Minister Jacinta Allan said works on the Avon River Bridge would lead to VLocity trains being used for two of the three services east of Traralgon. 

Diesel could still be used for the third service as there wasn’t stabling for VLocity trains at Bairnsdale.