13 June 2017
SEE TRACK, THINK TRAIN! KEEPING THE COMMUNITY SAFE THIS CANE CRUSHING SEASON
The annual sugarcane crush is underway in Far North Queensland with an estimated 3,710,000 tonnes to be crushed at MSF Sugar’s three northern mills this season.
In the areas located near MSF Sugar’s Mulgrave and South Johnstone Mills, this means the cane rail network is now active and cane trains are operating throughout the region.
MSF Sugar operates an extensive cane rail network which travels throughout the Cairns, Babinda, South Johnstone and Silkwood areas, comprising 800 kilometres of track, 397 road crossings and 319 bridges. Across the network, 24 locomotives will operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week from now until the end of November.
During the off-season, MSF Sugar upgraded 5 level crossings and undertook regular track maintenance to ensure an efficient start to the season. The company also invested heavily in its locomotive fleet.
Cane trains are iconic to the North Queensland landscape and attract interest from both locals and visitors. However it’s important to remember that they also bring risk.
As identified by Dennis Wright, Cane Supply and Rail Manager – Mulgrave Mill, “The average loco weighs 18 to 40 tonnes and the stopping distance for a loco under load is approximately 250 metres – this is assuming a dry straight track with good stopping conditions. When hauling a full load of bins, the 18 tonne loco weighs up to 600 tonnes while the 40 tonne loco weighs up to 1,000 tonnes.
“We place a great deal of importance on the safety of the MSF Sugar team and our communities. Public safety is our highest priority and we would like to remind the community, particularly parents and children, about the dangers of playing on or near cane trains and railway tracks” said Mr Wright.
The sentiment is echoed by Ken Hall, Cane Supply Manager – South Johnstone Mill. “This cane crushing season we would like to remind all people to be aware around railway lines. Cane trains operate 24 hours a day and while our crossings in urban areas feature audible signals and flashing lights, many of our rural crossings feature a Give Way sign only. It is important to be aware of this when approaching or crossing our lines throughout the region”.
Motorists and pedestrians are reminded that when a cane train is approaching, it is a legal requirement to Give Way at all times. More importantly, motorists are reminded that being aware of cane rail crossings will ensure their own safety and the safety of those around them.
“If you see a track, think a train” said Mr Hall.
Tips for a Safe Cane Crushing Season
- Watch for flashing lights positioned at level crossings and on major roads
- Educate your children to stay away from cane rail tracks and cane trains
- Become familiar with cane train crossings in your area, recognize the signs and be aware of crossings on less major roads that do not have flashing lights
- Resist the urge to race a cane train – upon impact a loco can cause serious harm to you and the occupants of your vehicle
- Report anything strange
- Never go onto a cane railway bridge – if you lose your footing the train may not be able to stop
- Keep an eye out for your kids
For more information or to arrange an interview with a locomotive driver please contact:
MSF Sugar Communications Manager
Mob: 0417 043 954
NOTE TO EDITORS – SAFETY AWARENESS RESOURCE:
To assist in educating primary school-aged children about the cane rail network, MSF Sugar has developed a range of colouring-in pages. You are welcome to reproduce these illustrations in your publication as a community service announcement, ensuring that the MSF Sugar logo and “safety initiative” statement are retained.
Above: During the 2016 crushing season, the driver of this vehicle ignored audible signals and flashing lights at a level crossing that was located only 100 metres from their home. Following collision with the locomotive, the driver was fortunate to sustain only minor vehicle damage.
Above: An example of a cane rail safety advertisement to alert pedestrians and motorists to season start. See Track, Think Train!