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Residents of a north Queensland town have blocked a railway line in protest over a planned upgrade they say will see more than 40 freight trains pass through a day.
Protesters blocked the line at Collinsville, west of Bowen, at 11am (AEST) on Tuesday and have vowed to remain there until senior representatives of rail provider QR National agree to meet with the community.
The rail line is a major freight route, delivering coal from the Bowen Basin to the Abbot Point terminal.
Whitsunday Councillor Peter Ramage said that on average more than 15 trains pass through the town each day at present, blocking access to the south of the town for about seven minutes at a time and frustrating residents.
Mr Ramage said the number of trains was expected to rise to between 40 and 70 a day once the so-called "missing link" in the rail line between Moranbah and Newlands was completed.
That would pose a danger to residents in the south of the town because emergency services vehicles were unable to cross the line when trains passed through, he said.
Residents living nearby were also affected by vibrations from passing trains, and noise and pollution was affecting the whole community, he said.
Mr Ramage said the community wanted a deviation line constructed to allow rail traffic to bypass the community.
The protest will continue until a senior QR National or government representative agrees to meet with the community, he said.
"We want a representative from QR that has the authority to make some decisions and give us some answers," he told AAP.
"Nothing would please us more than to have (Transport) Minister (Rachel) Nolan or the premier to come up here and have a look. It just defies logic."
A QR National spokeswoman said trains had been halted by the protest, which was comprising the safety of the community and rail staff.
She said the proposed deviation would cost $100 million and was not viable in the first stage of the rail upgrade but would be considered in the future.
Air quality and noise levels were within levels set by the Department of Environmental Management, she said.
© 2010 AAP
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