PROTESTERS disrupted the Hunter Valley freight rail network this week, blocking tracks and disrupting services to the Port of Newcastle to get their anti-coal message across.

Activist group Blockade Australia has claimed responsibility for several actions that have blocked tracks. On Tuesday, the group posted pictures on Facebook of a car parked on the tracks.

Pacific National CEO Paul Scurrah said, “At a time when Australia needs to recover from the economic shocks of the coronavirus pandemic and associated lockdowns, one of the most critical rail freight networks in this country – the Hunter Valley system – has been brought to a complete standstill because of dangerous protests from environmental extremists”.

“These radicals not only put the safety of our train crews in great peril, but their actions in the last 48 hours have led to 20 cancelled Pacific National rail services (notably coal and grain) to the Port of Newcastle. Each coal and grain service to port contains approximately $1 million in export value to the nation.”

Mr Scurrah said we are an island nation that survives on exports.

“Sadly, our sector doesn’t get a sense of any co-ordinated approach between federal and state authorities to prevent these dangerous protest activities from occurring in the future,” he said.