ON MONDAY night a coal train was deliberately stopped on Scone’s Liverpool Street rail crossing for more than 20 minutes, outraging local road users and causing traffic chaos.
Kathy Burns, who was in the third car from the crossing, described the scenario as frustrating and frightening.
“People were clearly annoyed and frustrated, many were trying to reverse out, mounting gutters and using the back lane through Campbell’s Corner to see if the other crossing was also blocked,” Mrs Burns said. “I could not see what was happening back in Kelly Street, but at a time when so many workers would have been making their way home, I can only imagine the traffic build-up there. How there was not an accident, I don’t know.
“It is a really frightening situation to think about the township being cut in two and emergency vehicles not being able to reach people or the hospital.”
A truck driver, who wishes to remain anonymous, was praised by other motorists for directing the traffic in the area and preventing gridlock on the New England Highway.
“Someone needed to start diverting traffic, otherwise the highway was going to become blocked,” the local truckie said. “I was wearing a navy blue shirt, which wasn’t ideal, but the traffic trying to turn into Liverpool Street needed to be directed down the highway to keep the highway flowing and there was no one else there to do it.”
The Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) said it was an operational decision to block Liverpool Street, to give a passenger train priority; a statement that bewildered people who were stopped at the lights.
“Whoever made that statement has not got the facts,” Mrs Burns said. “The train was stopped on a single line heading north and when it was finally cleared there was no passenger train.
“Why not stop before Liverpool Street, not across it?”
Another onlooker said there was a passenger train 10 minutes after the freight train left,
but it was also northbound and after stopping at the Scone train station returned south.
The truck driver noted the stop signal for the drivers was near the train station, not further south of the Liverpool Street crossing and questioned if it needed to be upgraded now that the trains were longer.
The ARTC said it was an operational error and admitted it was unfortunate. It apologised for the inconvenience.
Local police confirmed the ATRC did not contact them to advise of their decision to stop a freight train on the Liverpool Street crossing, to enable them to coordinate traffic.