Low Loader vs Level Crossing

From 9 April in the 2008 season, we were finally able to take passengers all the way out to Forsayth, after the rain finally cleared, the bridges popped back out of the water, and the track gangs could shovel some ballast back under certain sections of track.

Operationally things were going fine, with the Railmotors returning excellent reliability. However things went to Custard as they normally do when you least expect it, when on 15 July, a low loader carrying a bulldozer ripped out the Level Crossing at Gelaro, between Almaden and Mt Surprise. The loader apparently picked up a rail and displaced the track something like 5 metres.

This was on a Tuesday afternoon – no problems we think, they have all day Wednesday to repair this.

We were wrong. The crossing took a week to repair because of the items that needed to be procured for the repair – the availability of people to do the work, and the local council rules involved in closing a road to effect the repairs.

This caused a trainload of very annoyed passengers to have to complete the next two and a half days of their journey by a replacement bus, beyond Almaden. Really, for many, cancelling the trip was not an option. They had tours and accommodation booked in the region, and there would have been little alternative accommodation in Cairns due to the influx of visitors for the Cairns Show. The passengers re-joined the train in Almaden on Saturday Afternoon for the run back to Cairns.