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QUESTIONS are again being asked about the safety of Australian Rail Track Corporation's Inland Rail Project after mining giant BHP was last month forced to derail one of its iron ore trains.
The 268-car train was travelling to Port Headland when the driver stopped the locomotive to inspect one of the carriages. While doing the inspection, the train began to move with no one in control of it.
BHP was forced to deliberately derail the train after it travelled at an average speed of 110km/h for 50 minutes with no one on board.
Kenneth Moore is a member of the Forest Hill Community Development Association and has more than 20 years of experience in the rail industry.
He holds grave concerns about the route ARTC is planning for the project and its proximity to vulnerable towns and a world-class food bowl.
"One propane gas cylinder would wipe Forest Hill off the map,” Mr Moore said.
An ARTC representative declined to comment on the applicability of the BHP derailment to the Inland Rail Project but said it was "in ARTC's interest to ensure safety is a priority”.
"Rail is overwhelmingly the safest form of land transport available, up to nine times safer than transport by road,” the representative said.
"The rail industry is a heavily regulated environment and Inland Rail will comply with both commonwealth and state regulations to ensure safety for landowners, local community members, rail users and for external parties accessing our corridors.”
Mr Moore pointed to a derailment near Caboolture in 1998 that polluted Petrie Creek and said a similar incident in the Lockyer Valley could devastate its agricultural industry.
"The impact of one of these events on the water profile in the valley could wipe out a whole industry,” he said.
Mr Moore agreed derailments like the BHP incident were rare, but said it would take one event to cause catastrophic damage to the region.
"ARTC might be able to put down the most special track, but they're coming through a matter of national environmental significance and a food bowl rated seventh in the world for vegetable production,” he said.
"I think the risk is far too high.”
This article first appeared on www.gattonstar.com.au
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