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Reminder: cane trains on the move

Cane harvesting season
With cane harvesting season just around the corner, Bundaberg Sugar and local police are reminding drivers of the dangers and fines that apply to those disobeying the rules.

Bundaberg Sugar is warning motorists that its cane trains will have an increasing presence across the district in the lead up to the 2023 cane harvesting season, scheduled to commence on 29 May.

Bundaberg Sugar’s Cane Supply Manager, Matt Curtis, said it was important for motorists and other members of the public to understand the cane harvesting season brings with it a lot of cane train movement across the company’s cane rail network.

“Our trains operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week from June to December,” he said.

“Each year our drivers experience near miss incidents where motorists try to race the trains at level crossings or where motorists are unaware of train activity. Motorists should not be fooled by the speed of a cane train and must realise that it can’t stop quickly.

“Even if rail lines appear to be disused it is still probable that they are active.”

Matt said a cane train fully loaded could weigh in excess of 400 tonnes and took more than a kilometre to stop.

“The seasonal nature of train operations makes it easy for motorists to become complacent, so we are urging all road users to be aware and alert to trains,” he said.

“Bundaberg Sugar’s cane rail network plays a significant role in transporting the harvested cane to the sugar mill.

“People need to obey the road rules and drive to the conditions.”

Bundaberg Sugar follows a risk assessment process for crossings using the Australian Level Crossing Assessment Model (ALCAM).

This system is used to identify key potential risks at level crossings and is managed nationally to ensure a standard approach to design across Australia and New Zealand.

Crossings include active and passive types as determined by the ALCAM process and are designed, constructed and operated in line with the Australian Standard for railway crossings and the Queensland Manual Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD).

All of Bundaberg Sugar’s locomotives are fitted with cameras that record views looking forward and backward along the rail track as well a view of the inside of the cabin.

“This provides valuable information if a near miss or an incident occurs,” Matt said.

Bundaberg Police Acting Senior Sergeant, Matthew Swan, said many motorists did not realise that failing to stop or give way at the signage situated at a level crossing was a traffic infringement.

“Whether level crossings have flashing lights or signage only, motorists must be vigilant and drive to the conditions, slowing down and obeying the signals,” he said.

Currently motorists could receive a $431 traffic infringement notice and three demerit points for the following offences:

  • Fail to stop at ‘STOP’ sign at level crossing
  • Fail to give way at ‘STOP’ sign at level crossing
  • Fail to give way at ‘GIVE WAY’ sign at level crossing
  • Enter level crossing while warning lights or bells operating
  • Enter level crossing while train on crossing
  • Enter level crossing while train approaching crossing and collision likely
  • Enter level crossing while crossing or road beyond is blocked
  • Fail to leave level crossing as soon as practicable

“Road users must also be mindful that during the cane harvesting season we see more heavy vehicles on our roads, such as trucks, harvesters and haul‐outs,” Acting Senior Sergeant Swan said.

“Be patient and only overtake when safe to do so.”

Matt added it was also important for parents to be aware of their children’s activities and
whereabouts and remind children to keep well away from the cane rail tracks.

“Many developments including businesses, housing and schools have been built nearby to cane railways,” he said.

“Staying clear of the tracks is the best way for everyone to be safe.”

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