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A crucial freight route, cut by a train derailment last month, has reopened in north-west NSW.
The rail line at Boggabri was badly damaged when a coal train came off the tracks on November 28, blocking grain, pulse, cotton and coal freight destined for NSW ports.
Since then, a team of more than 40 construction staff from the Australian Rail Track Corporation have worked in ideal weather conditions to reconstruct four bridge piers over Cox's Creek.
The 80 kilometre an hour speed limit for trains has been reduced at the location to 20 kilometres an hour, but that will rise to 60 in January.
Inspectors from the Independent Transport Safety Regulator have been on site. CEO Simon Foster admits there was a lot of pressure to get the trains back on track.
"We were satisfied that, as far as we could tell, no corners have been cut," he said.
"ARTC have been very diligent in their process, making sure that everything has been assessed and taken care of, and that there is some ongoing monitoring."
Mr Foster says the cause of the derailment won't be known for several months.
"It's a pretty complex derailment, this one. There's a lot of things we're looking at. We've had investigators on site and they've also started investigating the wagons that were involved."
He says the general use of rail line will form some part of the investigation.
"It's up to the track manager to make sure that the line is maintained. Our investigators will be assessing how the tracks are being maintained and will look at the maintenance of the trains that are operating over that corridor.
"At the moment, it's part of our normal investigation process to explore all of those avenues."
The ARTC says monitoring of the bridge will continue through Christmas and into the New Year.
The rail line's reopening is welcome news to farmers, miners, and cotton and grain traders, with the derailment causing major headaches for businesses trying to get their products to port and markets.
For the past eleven days, trucks had been moving a backlog of containerised grain, chickpeas and cotton left stranded by the derailment.
Up to 700 containers have been trucked from grain sites in Narrabri, Wee Waa, Moree, and Walgett to the West Tamworth rail freight terminal. A further 600-700 containers were trucked to Warren, near Dubbo in central NSW, before being railed to Sydney.
This article first appeared on www.abc.net.au
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