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Port Fairy railway line

The Port Fairy railway line (also known as the South West line) is a railway serving the south west of Victoria, Australia. Running from the state capital Melbourne though the cities of Geelong and Warrnambool, it once terminated at the coastal town of Port Fairy until truncated to Dennington (just west of Warrnambool). This closed section of line has been converted into the 37 km long Port Fairy to Warrnambool Rail Trail. The line continues to see both passenger and freight services today.


Metro Trains Melbourne operates suburban passenger services along the inner section of the line as far as Werribee, while V/Line operates the Interurban Geelong Line and the Intercity Warrnambool Line services. For 11 years, from 19 September 1993 until 31 August 2004, the Melbourne to Warrnambool passenger service was run by the private West Coast Railway company.[1][2] Freight services also run on the line, operated by Pacific National and, for a brief period, El Zorro. El Zorro has resumed freight services to the Westvic container depot.


The Geelong line was originally built by the private Geelong and Melbourne Railway Company and opened on 25 June 1857, the line being sold to the Victorian Railways in 1860.[3] The line was built as a single track, progressively duplicated from the 1950s to the 1980s.[4]

The line was later extended south-west, to Winchelsea in 1876, Colac in 1877, Camperdown in 1883, Terang in 1877 and Warrnambool, Dennington and Port Fairy in 1890. This line is now closed beyond Warrnambool.[5] A branch line was built from Koroit (between Warrnambool and Port Fairy) to Hamilton (on the Ararat – Portland railway), via Penshurst, in 1890. At the same time a short-lived connection was opened between Penshurst and Dunkeld (also on the Ararat – Portland railway). It closed eight years later.

Branch lines were also constructed from South Geelong to Queenscliff in 1879, from Moriac (between Geelong and Winchelsea) to Wensleydale and Terang to Mortlake in 1890, from Birregurra (between Winchelsea and Colac) to Forrest in 1891, from Camperdown to Timboon in 1892, from Irrewarra (east of Colac) to Cressy in 1910, and from Colac to Alvie in 1923.

A narrow gauge branch was also opened from Colac to Beech Forest in 1902, principally to carry timber, and was extended to Weeaproniah and Crowes in 1911.

The branch lines began to be closed from the late 1940s, the Wensleydale line being the first in 1948, followed by the Forrest line in 1957, the Irrewarra line in 1953, the Alvie line in 1954, the Beech Forest line in 1962 (the section from Weeaproniah to Crowes having been closed in 1954), and the Timboon line in 1988.

New crossing loop

In July 2012, the Minister for Public Transport announced that a new crossing loop would be constructed on the line at Warncoort, between Birregurra and Colac. Tenders were called for in August.[6]

Line guide

Broad gauge tracks are shown in red, and standard gauge in blue.

Port Fairy line


External links

  • Rail Geelong: Line History
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