The council and Goulburn MP Pru Goward have gone in to bat for Tarago residents in their quest to rid “smelly” trains from their village.
At issue is Veolia Environmental Services’ trains laden with putrescible waste bound for nearby Crisps Creek and ultimately, the Woodlawn bioreactor. Residents are angry the trains are parked on the rail line within the village waiting to enter Veolia’s Crisps Creek siding further along. The trains leaked, created a stench and spewed out diesel fumes near the Tarago Primary School, they told The Post last month.
Tarago and District Progress Association vice-president Judy Alcock said Veolia saw it as a temporary arrangement to manage train movements into Crisps Creek. Transport for NSW secured $7.7 million from Infrastructure NSW to extend the Tarago rail loop near the town. Veolia is contributing $900,000 as it will help manage their train movements.
Ms Alcock said the company had argued that residents would be better off with the siding because trains would only have to park there for 25 to 30 minutes, not the current three hours. But she told The Post that any length of time was “not on.”
“We’ve been very tolerant of the smell and their trucks and the only thing we’ve put our foot down about was the train. Once the siding is permanent, we don’t know what’s next,” she said.
Now they have others in their court. In late September, the Progress Association, Ms Goward, Mayor Bob Kirk and council general manager Warwick Bennett met with representatives of Roads Minister Melinda Pavey and Transport for NSW in Sydney.
Ms Alcock said Ms Goward and the council were very supportive of the village’s stance. Residents have taken issue with the lack of consultation by Transport for NSW on the rail siding’s extension.
“The outcome (of the meeting) was that Warwick and Pru asked Transport for NSW to look at other options and in the meantime that the Tarago siding be put on hold,” she said.
Mr Bennett has since sought to confirm with Ms Pavey’s office that “an informal but separate business case” would be conducted to determine if the rail siding could be relocated to Crisps Creek. He further requested that the council and Progress Association be provided a copy of this document.
Mayor Bob Kirk said he hadn’t heard anything back.
“It’s not ideal,” he said of the train parking.
“We’re trying to remedy it. It’s my understanding Veolia is happy to work with the community but they also have to work in conjunction with the rail. The fact is it’s an impost on the community and our job is to represent them.”
Progress Association secretary Adrian Ellson said there were other options available to Veolia. These included extension of Crisps Creek, use of the Inveralochy siding or a spur line straight into Woodlawn, which he speculated ming outfit heron Resources could also use. He doubted they would do the latter due to the expense.
Veolia has previously said it would continue to work with the community on a solution.
Residents have also questioned how the Infrastructure NSW grant to Transport NSW came about. While Veolia is contributing to the siding, the community questions why taxpayers are footing the bill for infrastructure “that will only benefit one company.”
Veolia’s facilities manager Henry Gundry has insisted the company followed due process. It applied to Transport for NSW to extend the Tarago loop.
A spokesperson for the latter previously told The Post that the extension would deliver “significant community benefits as it would temporarily hold empty trains, allowing the loaded ones to move directly to Veolia’s Crisps Creek unloading facility.
“The existing passing loop is short, meaning loaded waste trains need to be broken up, shunted and stored for extended periods,” he said.
Mr Ellson hopes for a meaningful outcome.
“But part of the problem has been a lack of follow-up from consultation,” he said.
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