A COLLISION between a truck and train at Westbury in northern Tasmania has blocked TasRail’s main line linking Hobart with Burnie.

Two locomotives and a string of predominantly empty wagons struck an unladen log truck at 4.45pm yesterday and although there were no physical injuries the lead loco derailed and is stuck “wheel-deep” in mud. The level crossing was clearly marked with appropriate signage and Tasmania Police believe “inattention” was a contributing factor in the crash.

TasRail chief executive Steven Dietrich told local media this morning that if he was “extremely optimistic” the line could be cleared 24 hours after work to remove the loco by three cranes begins at 2pm today, but 48 hours would more realistic, given repairs needed to track and associated infrastructure. National rail safety investigators were due to arrive from the mainland at 11 am.

The line carries TasRail’s premier daily freight services between the north and south of the state which predominantly move containerised freight to/from the Bass Strait shipping service of Strait Link and SeaRoad.

Mr Dietrich told The Exaniner the collision was the latest in a string of crashes between trains and heavy vehicles across Australia.

“What’s it going to take for people to follow road rules?” he said. “Is it going to take a fatality?  You can see how clear that stop sign is and people still do not follow road rules. These aren’t rail rules, these are road rules.

“How do we get to the community and get it in people’s minds to concentrate and if it says ‘stop’, to stop?”