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The ARTC is standing by its predictions that a rail bridge, damaged by a coal train derailment, will be back on track by Christmas.
New South Wales Government is monitoring trucks that are hauling grain as part of the mammoth effort to clear a backlog of stranded agri-products and coal.
The transport of grain, chickpeas, wheat and coal has been held up after the derailment at Boggabri, in the north-west of NSW, left the rail line badly damaged two weeks ago.
Trucks started hauling grain from Narrabri to the West Tamworth rail freight terminal on Monday.
Whitehaven Coal started trucking coal between its Narrabri mine site and its Gunnedah Coal Handling Plant this morning.
Roads and Maritime Services has set up a temporary weighing station north of Gunnedah and is scrutinising all trucks carrying grain containers between Narrabri and Tamworth.
The trucks have been permitted to carry a greater load than normal, with each container of grain weighing up to 27 tonnes.
Roads Minister Duncan Gay says the concessions will remain in place until the Australian Rail and Track Corporation (ARTC) declares the track at Boggabri is operational again.
The man charged with co-ordinating the freight effort, Tony Gausden, say 80 containers will be transported by rail from Tamworth to Sydney tonight.
"They're mainly containerised grain and chickpeas going to export through Port Botany."
He says many trains will follow in coming weeks.
"Everything's gone so smoothly this morning, and we expect it will go like clockwork now. We're expecting a train to go every two days. Unfortunately, there are trains on the wrong side of the bridge derailment so we're trying to acquire more rolling stock so we can run a more frequent service.
"We're expecting the 600 or so containers that we've currently got loaded will be cleared in the next 7-10 days, and then we expect to move just the normal production levels from then on, until that bridge reopens."
Meantime, Whitehaven Coal now has up to 20 heavy vehicles on the road, hauling up to 40 tonnes of coal at a time.
It's part of a two-week trial to test systems, procedures and truck configurations. A larger scale trucking operation is currently being assessed by the Department of Planning.
The company has requested the use of 59 coal-haulage trucks, moving up to 80,000 tonnes of coal per week. If this maximum haulage plan is approved, there would be approximately 420 return truck movements between the Narrabri mine and the Gunnedah Handling and Processing Plant each day.
Whitehaven Coal Managing Director Tony Haggarty says the company will suffer significant economic penalties and lost production if it isn't granted the dispensation.
"Numerous other measures are being taken to avoid any shut down of production. However these measures can only assist to a certain extent."
ARTC anticipates the damaged rail track at Boggabri will reopen by Christmas. The track closure is also giving the corporation the opportunity to carry out track work near the derailment site that was originally planned for March next year.
Roads Minister Duncan Gay says one current industry estimate is that the grain industry stands to lose $12.5 million each week until the rail line is back on track.
This article first appeared on www.abc.net.au
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