Be train aware this crushing season

If you seen a track, think a "train".

That's the simple message from MSF Sugar as the annual sugarcane crush is ready to begin.

And with an estimated 4,442,500 tonnes to be crushed by the group this season, the normally dormant tracks will be very busy with 20 locomotives operating 24-7 across the cane rail network throughout the Cairns, Babinda, South Johnstone and Silkwood areas.

It is a legal requirement for motorists and pedestrians to give way to cane trains at all times.

“Our rail network sits dormant for six months of the year, and becomes active for the last half of the year during the cane crushing season which generally runs from June to December, depending on the milling region, and this can create a level of complacency among motorists," MSF Sugar’s Mulgrave Mill Manager Chris Hoare said.

“Our cane rail network is critical to the industry – it’s a part of our transport team’s workplace and allows us to get our growers sugarcane back to the Mill safely.

“We hope the public will join us to help make sure the cane crushing season is a safe one, by remaining aware and alert when crossing the rail network.”

MSF Sugar’s Cane Supply Manager for Mulgrave and South Johnstone Mills Ken Hall reminded motorists just how big and potentially damaging a cane train can be.

“It’s important to understand just how dangerous cane trains can be," he said. "There’s an incorrect assumption that cane trains are ‘small’ and can’t hurt you, but this is far from correct.

“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”.