Anger builds as coal trains grind to a halt

LIVERPOOL Plains Shire Council (LPSC) has finally lost patience with coal trains causing delays of up to 20 minutes at level crossings within its boundaries.

The council claims it is “only a matter of time” before an emergency services vehicle is caught in the gridlock while en route to a life-or-death situation.

Residents in Quirindi, Werris Creek and Willow Tree frequently endure lengthy waits as the trains – many more than a kilometre long – pass through.

But especially galling is when the trains come to a complete stop while blocking the crossings, leaving frustrated motorists and pedestrians stranded.

“What is really cheesing people off is that the trains are literally parking across the crossings and they just sit there for up to 20 minutes,” Cr Andrew Laurie said.

“One day an ambulance with someone in a dire situation is going to be caught and if we have to wait for that day until something happens, it’s a pretty dire situation.”

Cr Col Stewart said the council had repeatedly raised its concerns with the state government, Roads and Maritime Services, Australian Rail Track Corporation and the coal industry.

“Unfortunately, none of the relevant agencies seem to want to accept responsibility and there is a tendency for them to pass the buck,” he said.

“LPSC certainly don’t want to see a tragedy arise through a blockage and would like to think the parties involved ... could collaborate to resolve the problem.”

Cr Stewart said with several mining companies seeking approvals for new coalmines, the problem was only going to get worse.

“Many residents are saying enough is enough and believe the wealth that is being generated by the contents of passing trains should help to solve this problem,” he said.

Resident Donna Lawson said the delays were a “burden” on people commuting to and from work and called for the installation of overpasses.

“I think we’re entitled to whinge when there is a train pretty much every half hour or less and we don’t derive any benefit from it,” she posted on the council’s Facebook page.

To help build a compelling case for government intervention, the council is calling on residents to report any stationary trains blocking crossings for more than two minutes.

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