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THE running of the last regular freight train to Tamworth yesterday was a sad indictment of years of flawed transport policy, Member for Tamworth Peter Draper said.
“It is unbelievable that as congestion on highways increases and the world is concentrated on environmental concerns, regular movement of freight by rail to a major city like Tamworth has been removed,” Mr Draper said.
He said one ex-rail employee, who had worked on the railway at West Tamworth, had told him that when he started work in the mid-1980s there were about six freight trains a day to Tamworth.
“I have a ‘train consist form’ for a freight train arriving in Tamworth back in 1998 that consisted of with a total of 28 wagons, including 12 fuel tankers, nine wagons of superphosphate bound for Dumaresq, a couple of cement wagons for Nemingha, plus wagons to Fielders Mill and Potaway in Tamworth,” Mr Draper said.
“Yesterday’s last regular freight consisted of just 10 wagons of fuel.
“That sad decline in the fortunes of rail freight has now seen all of that traffic transferred to road transport. It is a disgusting state of affairs.”
Mr Draper said an ex-employee had told him about 30 million litres of fuel a year was moved to Tamworth and Dubbo via rail.
“Now all of this fuel is on the roads, competing with other motorists and of course increasing safety risks,” he said.
“This irresponsible decision to remove a bulk, hazardous commodity from rail forces more trucks onto our roads at a time when projections indicate by the year 2020 the volume of road freight will more than double.
“Again I ask, when will this government recognise that rail is the most carbon-efficient method for moving freight, and for a multitude of environmental and social reasons including road safety, make a decision to reverse the continued decline of most rail services apart from coal haulage?” Mr Draper said.
Northern Daily Leader
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