9 March 2023

Riverina train derailment highlights Inland Rail risk say ratepayers group

| Chris Roe
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Wagga Residents & Ratepayers Association's Chris Roche

Wagga Residents & Ratepayers Association’s Chris Roche wants to keep heavy trains out of the CBD. Photo: Chris Roe.

In the wake of yesterday’s train derailment at Old Junee, Chris Roche from the Wagga Residents & Ratepayers Association says locals need to speak up and keep Inland Rail out of the CBD.

“That’s a major concern for Inland Rail if they continue with the current route of coming through the centre of Wagga,” he said.

“If you take into consideration another example, the Palestine township in the United States, where there a derailment of a cargo train led to an evacuation of the town due to toxic materials being dispersed in the atmosphere.”

While the disaster in Palestine involved multiple carriages carrying a cocktail of chemicals and represents a cascade of regulatory errors, even a minor spill of fuel can require hazmat containment, as was the case at Old Junee this week.

“Imagine if we have a disaster like that. People may say it won’t happen but it can happen. It has happened.”

READ ALSO ‘An absolute balls-up’: Wagga ratepayers want three things on the election agenda

Chris said that the upcoming NSW state election was a chance to put pressure on candidates to “future-proof” the city as Wagga grows towards 100,000 people within the next two to three decades.

“That’s why we are working on the three-pronged attack of the Inland Rail, the heavy vehicle bypass and also the Gobba Bridge duplication all at once because they can work very well together.”

The plan proposed by the Wagga ratepayers group would be to establish a northern route that would bring traffic past the Bomen Industrial Estate and across the floodplain before rejoining the highway near Pomingalarna Reserve and connecting the rail near the Kapooka Bridge.


Wagga Residents & Ratepayers Association wants trains and heavy vehicles to bypass the city to the north. Photo: Supplied.

While it would require two bridges to cross the river to Wagga’s northeast and northwest, Chris believes that combining the three projects would ultimately save money in the future.

“It is so important to speak up and tell our politicians what we want,” said Chris.

“We are not Sydney, we want the pollies to be Wagga-centric. We don’t want them to be city-centric or playing political games. Look after the people that voted you in.”

He urged voters to attend Friday’s candidate’s forum being hosted by Committee 4 Wagga, the Streaming Guys and Region Riverina.

“We are saying to all the residents, the voters of Wagga, if you want to have your say and be heard, come to the forum,” Chris said.

“You can ask questions of the candidates either within the forum or afterwards and hold your candidates to account.”

READ ALSO Wagga’s contenders to go head-to-head in NSW election debate

The forum kicks off at the RSL Club on Friday at 5:30 pm and will also be live-streamed through Region Riverina’s Facebook page here.

Five of the seven candidates have been confirmed for the discussion which will be moderated by Region’s Genevieve Jacobs and Chris Roe.

The independent member for Wagga, Dr Joe McGirr, Nationals’ Andrianna Benjamin, Labor’s Keryn Foley, the Greens’ Ray Goodlass and Liberal Party candidate Julia Ham will all take part.

Newly declared Shooters Fishers and Farmers candidate Chris Smith and Public Education Party candidate Raymond Gentles will both be unavailable for the event.

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