NEWCASTLE has experienced the eighth consecutive day of organised protests with two separate but coordinated incidents that targeted railways.

This morning (2 July) a man suspended himself in a tree with a line of rope that was also attached to a rail line, before being arrested and held in police custody, while in the afternoon a woman climbed atop a coal train in an attempt to halt its transit.

The blockades are a continuation of efforts coordinated by a protest group called Blockade Australia, which has been targeting Newcastle’s freight railways for over a week, attempting to halt the transportation of coal into the Port of Newcastle and raise awareness for their cause.

Newcastle is the largest coal export port in the world, with total exports having reached 93 million tonnes in 2023 alone.

Protests continued over the previous weekend, and since Friday 28 June a total of six people have been arrested for attempted blockades, including a girl aged 17, with the protests having usually involved individuals either suspended above rail bridges or physically climbing atop trains.

Among the charges that have been laid against some of the protesters include; causing obstruction to railway locomotive or rolling stock, entering inclosed non-agricultural lands-serious safety risk, entering inclosed land without lawful excuse, cause/attempt to cause train or tram in motion to be stopped, and interfering with equipment without permission.

Jenny Aitchison MP, member for Maitland criticised the protester’s strategies on her official Facebook page, citing the jeapordised safety of protesters in Singleton who she claims recently jumped onto a train line to stop a moving train.

“If I were the protesters, I would be reviewing their strategy. Otherwise, they will end up with a fatality that will be impossible for any driver to prevent.” “I have no issue with any protest, but if you protest do not put the train crew, or any worker, in a position where they may suffer long-term non-physical injuries. Train crews suffer from others’ demise as well.”