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TASRAIL says it is becoming increasingly concerned by the idiotic acts of trespassers which have the potential to cause derailments and seriously injure or kill freight train drivers.
Photos supplied to the Mercury show piles of timber deliberately stacked over tracks, large rocks rolled into the path of trains and rubbish strewn across the rail corridor.
Tree branches deliberately stacked over the tracks. Picture: SUPPLIEDSince July 1 last year, 52 trespassers have been reported illegally entering the state’s rail network — up 68 per cent on the 2016-17 financial year.
TasRail CEO Steven Dietrich said striking something was a very traumatic experience for train drivers, and it could end in serious injury or death.
“Our drivers are fed up with having to stop their locomotives and remove a range of items, including microwaves, mattresses, cots, rocks and timber, that have been deliberately dumped onto the tracks,” he said.
“The people that are placing these items on the rail are illegally trespassing in the rail corridor — and are at serious risk of being hit by one of our trains.”
A large rock stuck under a train wheel. Picture: SUPPLIEDTasRail will on Tuesday use an excavator and several trucks to remove heavy household goods, including washing machines and couches, which have been dumped on the Bell Bay line.
The operation is the first part of a new project focusing on cleaning up the train tracks in a bid to deter trespassers and remove rubbish that could cause derailments.
Rubbish dumped on and around the train tracks. Picture: SUPPLIEDIn recent weeks one driver spent two hours trying to remove a large rock from a key freight corridor after it became wedged under his train’s wheel, TasRail spokeswoman Sarah Hirst said.
Freight operations on the Bell Bay line will be suspended on May 19 while TasRail drivers and volunteers in Launceston’s northern suburbs clean up the tracks.
The following week, fences will be built to stop cars gaining access to the rail corridor, which starts at the north end of the East Tamar yard and climbs up to Mowbray.
There has been a high number of recent incidents where rubbish, including prams and pavers, have been thrown onto the rail from bridges. Picture: SUPPLIEDClean Up Australia Day Founder Ian Kiernan applauded the initiative, saying the idea could spread nationally.
“Communities frequently tell us that they are disturbed by the amount of rubbish they see along rail corridors, feeling powerless to do something about it,” she said.
“Should this pilot become a national action, we will see communities and rail workers right across the country banding together to make a real difference.”
A fence has been cut on the Bell Bay Line so that trespassers can illegally access the rail corridor and dump their rubbish. Picture: SUPPLIEDIn the coming month TasRail drivers will also be visiting local schools to discuss with students the dangers of trespassing on the rail corridor.
This article first appeared on www.themercury.com.au
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