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A major freight route in north-west NSW is expected to reopen within three weeks after a derailment left thousands of tonnes of grain, pulses and cotton stranded.
Australia Rail Track Corporation says repair work in underway and trains will be back on track at Boggabri by Christmas.
Six fully loaded coal wagons fell from the track last week, causing major structural damage to the rail bridge last Wednesday.
Minister for Western NSW Kevin Humphries says everything is being done to ensure stranded grain and pulses make it to port and market.
"It's critical at the momen,t because it's the main arterial line into north-west NSW. We've got stranded containerised grain, cotton and bulk wheat. On top of that, you've got a coal mine that's also been stranded."
"We've had to come up with alternative solutions. Accessing rail out of Coonamble and Warren is one option. We also need to look at how we can move the containerised freight by road.
"It may mean looking at increasing weight tolerances as well so some of those trucks could run a couple of tonnes heavy so we're looking an an exemption period."
Ray Booby, from Auscott in Narrabri, says the company has stopped taking grain from growers until the situation becomes clearer.
He says the closure of the rail line couldn't have come at a worse time.
"This time of year is the peak period for shipping of chick peas and faba beans over to the subcontinent. It's the busiest period for grain."
He says exporters will feel the biggest impact from delays in getting product to port in Sydney.
"Our clients have got contracts to meet and deadlines to have the product overseas and, if it doesn't make it, will basically default the contract and they'll lose the sale."
Alec MacKenzie, General Manager of the Hunter Valley's ARTC Operations, says new bridge designs have already been approved and is optimistic about the repair timeframe.
"These wagons weight about 100 tonnes. They were fully loaded, doing about 75 kilometres per hour. You can imagine the force they came off the track at.
"We have materials on the way. We'll build two new piers in situ and some of the damaged ones will be shroud in concrete to make sure they're safe."
Nine thousand tonnes of earth need to be moved as part of the operation.
"We have to do some earthworks but at this stage we're very confident we'll achieve the Christmas date."
The cause of the derailment remains unknown and investigations are continuing.
"There are no obvious signs of a track fault," said Mr MacKenzie.
A co-ordinator from the NSW transport department has been appointed to work out the best way to clear the backlog of freight.
This article first appeared on www.abc.net.au
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