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Disused rail lines in regional areas throughout the state are a goldmine waiting to be used – particularly during times of drought, rail workers say.
Rail, Tram and Bus Union NSW Secretary, Alex Claassens, said a move by Southern Shorthaul Railroad (SSR) to start carting water by train between Centennial Coal’s Charbon and Airlie mines near Lithgow should be seen as a wake-up call to other areas.
Trains carrying 725,000 litres of water a day are being used on the 40km route between the two mines.
“There are disused rail lines in many parts of the state that are begging to be reopened or, at a minimum, properly preserved,” Mr Claassens said.
“The SSR example in regional NSW is a great one. Transporting water between sites by train is not only helping drought affected areas, but it’s also creating jobs.
“Rail is a much better alternative to road for a myriad of reasons. There’s little doubt the smartest and safest way of transporting goods.
“There are debates raging in a many communities at the moment about what to do with disused rail lines.
“Reopening disused lines such as the Blayney to Demondrille line, the Armidale to Tenterfield line, Casino to Murwillumbah line, and the Rylstone to Mudgee line make complete sense.
“We also need to be preserving other disused rail corridors to ensure that future governments have the option of restoring rail services.
“What’s clear is that rail trails should be developed only as temporary measures, to ensure rail corridors and infrastructure are protected and used productively until such time as rail services can be restored.
“Particularly at the moment, when our regional communities are being hit hard by drought and unemployment, we’ve got to start looking at smarter ways of doing things and rail is often the answer.
“Our governments should be looking at rail as a realistic, sensible solution for assisting drought-affected businesses and communities; getting trucks off our roads; and boosting employment.”
This article first appeared on www.rtbuexpress.com.au
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