THE first trains carrying tonnes of regional coal, cotton and grains left the Narrabri district yesterday after waiting three weeks for Boggabri’s damaged rail line to return to service.
Trains were stuck north of Boggabri around Narrabri and Wee Waa after six wagons of a fully laden coal train derailed on the Coxs Creek Bridge rail crossing on November 28. The bridge was extensively damaged and dozens of contractors were called to make emergency repairs to the structure. The cause of the derailment is yet to be revealed.
The Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) oversaw the repairs and yesterday confirmed trains returned to operations from 9am – seven hours ahead of the revised forecast – and five days ahead of the initial prediction just after the derailment.
An ARTC spokesperson said while freight and passenger services were back on track ahead of Christmas, people are reminded to be wary of railway level crossings, with many trains now moving along.
“The line is likely to be busier than usual with maximum trains running to assist with the backlog of freight and coal, and we’d like everyone to stay safe this Christmas break,” the spokesperson said.
A Whitehaven Coal Limited spokeswoman confirmed two trains carrying the company’s coal from its Narrabri underground mine were scheduled to leave as soon as possible yesterday.
“Whitehaven congratulates the ARTC for having the track repaired so quickly and having trains running before Christmas,” she said.
Other regional miner, Idemitsu Australia Resources, winds up production at its Boggabri coalmine today and will resume train freighting in January.
NSW Transport spokesman Tony Gausden had been handling the massive trucking effort to move the Narrabri district’s agricultural commodities backlog.
“We were able to get rid of the backlog and then some,” he said.
All trains will be subject to temporary speed restrictions along the rebuilt bridge for the next month or so with full track speeds returning in February.