Protesters stop coal trains

Protesters had coal trains backed up for kilometres at the small mining town of Collinsville, inland from Bowen, north Queensland, on July 26. They were protesting against the dust and noise of the trains, and the plan to upgrade the rail line to bring up to 70 coal trains a day through their town.

About 15 coal trains a day rumble through the middle of Collinsville. The residents picketed the line for three days, bringing coal train traffic to a complete halt.

Up to 40 people at a time blockaded the line, and set up camp with tents and barbecues. They were supporting the community’s demand for Queensland Rail (QR) to build a rail diversion around the town.

Whitsunday Shire councillor Peter Ramage told the July 27 Townsville Bulletin: “We know we have the support of the township. Local business have been dropping down food and coffee, and as word got around in the afternoon, more and more community members came down to join us.

“QR has made a lot of promises, but nothing has ever come of it. It’s all about quality of life, and all we are asking for is that rail deviation.”

The blockade was suspended on July 28 after QR National manager Ian Dall visited the town, and some concessions were secured to limit the impact of train movements through Collinsville. QR National has pledged regular meetings with community representatives to monitor developments.

Ramage told the July 29 Bulletin that the fight wasn’t necessarily over. “If we don't get what we want we will be back on the track”, he said.

“We are acting in good faith to see if they deliver.”