RAIL authorities are today planning a recovery operation after hundreds of tonnes of coal spilt when a fully laden train derailed on a bridge overpass near Boggabri on Wednesday.
Six wagons on the southbound Pacific National train heading from Boggabri to Newcastle derailed at Coxs Creek Bridge Crossing about 2.30pm on Wednesday.
Police from Barwon Local Area Command attended the scene, along with Rural Fire Service brigades who extinguished a small grass fire caused by the incident.
The driver of the train was unhurt in the incident, which left one carriage hanging from the overpass.
An Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) spokesman said the Office of Transport Safety Investigations and the Independent Transport Safety Regulator were notified of the incident and were on-site investigating the incident yesterday.
“While these investigations are taking place, ARTC has mobilised a team of technical and infrastructure specialists on-site to plan what is likely to be an extensive recovery and repair task,” the spokesman said.
“After clearance is given from the regulators, ARTC will work with the rail operator on the complex job of recovering the derailed wagons safely and then undertaking a detailed assessment of the damage caused.”
The accident caused significant damage to the bridge and track.
Extensive repairs are expected to be conducted before the rail line can be reopened.
The spokesman said there was no way to estimate when the track would return to service.
The ARTC will wait for the investigation to finish before determining the cause of the accident.
Hundreds of North West Countrylink passengers will be affected by the rail line closure, with rail services terminated at Werris Creek.
On Wednesday, passengers on the 10.05am Sydney to Moree service were put on coaches after the derailment.
The Countrylink website stated the Moree to Sydney Xplorer service would be replaced by a road coach service from Moree to Werris Creek.
A Whitehaven Coal spokesman said production at its Narrabri mine was continuing and that coal would not be transported by road during the closure.
“We are waiting on the results of the investigation by the ARTC to determine its impact on our operations,” the spokesman said.