Tonight marks the end of an era, with the final passenger train due to travel down the Bungaree loop.

No more will locals be seen driving neck-and-neck with Vlocity trains along the Western Freeway between Wallace and Bungaree.

A 1949 Victorian Railways map, showing original stations along the line, their distance from Melbourne – and the now-defunct Bungaree loop

The 141-year-old track will be decommissioned during works over the next month, as coaches replace trains on the Ballarat line until January 31.

The 17.11 Wendouree-to-Southern Cross service is expected to reach Bungaree around 7.25pm.

The line for the Bungaree passing loop was first established in 1879 and used as a branch line from Ballarat to Gordon.

At its peak, the line included the Warrenheip, Dunnstown, Bungaree, Bungaree Racecourse, Wallace and Millbrook railway stations. All were closed by 1981.

In 1889 it formed part of the original alignment of the Melbourne to Ballarat line, which included Bradshaw, Ballan (1888), Ingliston and Bacchus Marsh.

In 2005, as part of the Regional Fast Rail project, a new direct rail line was opened from Millbrook to Dunnstown, providing travel savings for trains on the Ballarat Line.

This left the Bungaree passing loop to carry deviated train services, allowing trains to pass each other on the line.

Transport Infrastructure Minister Jacinta Allen said the decommissioning of the Bungaree passing loop allows five level crossings to be removed in Bungaree, Wallace and Millbrook, providing a huge safety boost for road users in these areas. 

“New passing loops at Ballan and Millbrook will come into use at the end of January as part of the Ballarat Line Upgrade” she said.

“This will deliver more services and improving reliability on the line by allowing trains to recover quickly from unexpected delays.”

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Track, signage and infrastructure such as boom gates and lights will be removed from Bungaree loop crossing sites in January.

Temporary road closures will take place at level crossings along the loop:

  • ** Bungaree-Wallace Rd, Bungaree (Thursday 7 January – Monday 11 January) 
  • ** Bungaree-Wallace Rd, Wallace (Thursday 7 January – Monday 11 January) 
  • ** Lesters Rd, Bungaree (Monday 11 January – Sunday 17 January) 
  • ** Westcotts Rd, Wallace (Monday 11 January – Sunday 17 January) 
  • ** Old Melbourne Road, Millbrook (Wednesday 20 January – Wednesday 27 January).
  • RELATED STORY: How crowded is your Ballarat-line train.. normally?

The looped line was originally built to pick up potato deliveries in the era before trucks, but its most memorable moment was on the night of 30 August 1971.

At 10.30pm, the Adelaide Overland derailed in Bungaree. None of the 350 passengers were killed, but 17 were taken to Ballarat Base Hospital.

** The new Ballarat line timetable will be announced early January and take effect from Sunday January 31.

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Gabrielle Hodson
Author: Gabrielle Hodson

Online, radio, TV and print journalist since 1993. BA (Hum) majoring in journalism Deakin University. Send us a news tip 🙂