THE Victorian Government is looking to expand its rail network beyond Mildura to link with the east-west rail line through Broken Hill.
Ports Minister Denis Napthine said the expansion provided the best hope for standardising the Mildura line to the southern ports of Portland and Geelong.
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Dr Napthine said the Victorian Government was already doing some preliminary work on the proposal, but it would only come to fruition with federal government help.
He said the proposal was driven by mineral sand developments north of Mildura.
He indicated standardisation of the Victorian rail network was only likely to occur if commercial principles applied.
"As much as we can look forward to standardisation, it would be most helpful if the business case stacks up," Dr Napthine said.
"But it's going to be a long haul."
Dr Napthine said the Victorian Government was committed to ensuring there was regular maintenance on the state rail network and "hot spots" in rail infrastructure were identified and quickly restored.
The Government had committed $900 million over four years for rail maintenance in the last state Budget.
Dr Napthine was responding to criticism of the rail network by freight users and lobby groups after the release of another report into the system about six weeks ago.
Dr Napthine and Transport Minister Terry Mulder set up the Grains Logistics Taskforce in September to make recommendations on improving transport of grain by rail to the ports for export.
The taskforce included representatives of grain growers and the road, rail and port providers.
But the Alliance of Councils for Rail Freight Development was excluded from the taskforce.
The alliance has carried out an enormous amount of work on rail freight development, particularly as transport of grain and other commodities has resulted in heavy damage to the road network.
Dr Napthine said the Government wanted active participants in the grain industry on the GLT, not lobby groups.
But he said the Government regularly talked to the council alliance on freight issues.
"We share their passion and commitment," he said.
Mr Mulder and Dr Napthine have extended the tenure of the GLT and asked it to report earlier so that emerging problems could be tackled before the next grain harvest began.