Activists lock themselves to tracks to block coal train

Climate activists locked themselves to the railway tracks at the Dunedin Railway Station blocking a train transporting coal this morning.

There were about 15 activists from Extinction Rebellion at the protest which began about 6.30am and concluded by 11am. About seven people were on the tracks and two of them were physically clipped onto the tracks wearing face masks that say ‘no to coal’.

Several police officers were also at the scene.

The train was bringing coal from Bathurst Resources’ Takitimu mine in Southland to Fonterra’s Clandeboye milk factory in Canterbury. 

KiwiRail Dunedin operations manager Jamie McFarland said the protest had caused a massive disruption to its service, not only locally, but to the wider South Island network.

‘‘The biggest problem I have is that they have recklessly endangered themselves and also my staff.’’

During their last protest, which coincided with the farmers market, staff had not been immediately aware that there were people on the tracks, he said.

‘‘It is a shame — there are other ways to get your message across.’’ 

Activists against coal mining lay on the tracks at the Dunedin Railway Station this morning. Photo: Stephen Jaquiery
Activists against coal mining lay on the tracks at the Dunedin Railway Station this morning. Photo: Stephen Jaquiery
Extinction Rebellion Spokeswoman Jana Al Thea (16) said they were there to hold KiwiRail accountable for the car loads of coal they transport through the city.

She had watched climate change continue to escalate over her lifetime and “frankly” it was unacceptable, she said.

“We’re here to tell KiwiRail to Stop hauling Coal. KiwiRail is carrying climate-destroying coal to make a profit for the very government that has declared a Climate Emergency.

“That climate-destroying coal is stealing my future. KiwiRail is stealing my future,” she said.

The protesters got onto the track at 7.30am and began walking towards the train that was due to leave the station, meeting it head on. The train backed away and hasn’t returned since.

Member Blake Armstrong said their last protest on the tracks, during the Saturday Otago Farmers Markets, lasted eight hours.

But they were told they wouldn’t be able to stick around that long this time around.

The group had written a letter to KiwiRail and bought the train driver a box of chocolates, he said.

The protesters remain in the tracks, sitting in a train formation, while trains carrying other goods, including perishables, have been able to pass on another track.

Among the protesters is 79-year-old Michael Fay.

He said he had been part of rebellions for much of his life, but joined Extinction Rebellion at the beginning of last year.

Police at the Extinction Rebellion protest this morning. Photo: Craig Baxter
Police at the Extinction Rebellion protest this morning. Photo: Craig Baxter

It was when the sky turned a strange colour as the Australian bush fires were raging that he thought “I ought to do something”.

Mr Fay was holding a sign that said “I am rebelling because I want our grandchildren to be able to hope and dream”.

Ms Al Thea said they weren’t planning on going anywhere any time soon, but it was up to each individual how long they stayed.

The daily coal train recently derailed on dilapidated tracks between Bathurst’s Takitimu coal mine and Invercargill. 



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I'm sure the Police will do nothing as usual, I was at the station last week and did see a no trespassing sign, perhaps the general public should take this attitude with all such signs?? as this mob are let away with it each time, nothing stopping them standing on the platform to have their protest legally.

Standing with signs gets ignored. Blockading the train compels attention. Well done to XR Otepoti for persisting.

Who needs coal, anyway?

The Earnslaw and Kingston Flyer.

The climate cult, tick tick, greta say 9 years left, time is running out.
Bring on Agenda 2030 and The Great Reset communist-capitalist mass-surveilliance technocracy. Disempower the middle classes and poor "I own nothing, but I am happy" and divert that power up to the 0.1% multi-billionaires that have scripted these agendas and the astro-turfed protest movements like XR.
You mean well, but wise up.

Thanks for this recap of a few main conspiracy theories. This is the calibre of thinking that denies the existence of climate change.

The need to ditch coal is obvious. Coal may have powered industrial revolutions and propelled countries onto the world stage, but it’s a planetary disaster. It releases more carbon emissions per unit of energy than any other electricity source and is the largest single source of temperature increases, responsible for almost one-third of global warming.
Coal is also a health crisis, releasing air pollution, which increases the risk of cancer, heart disease, asthma and other respiratory diseases.
Will this protest change things? Probably not. Protests against coal quite possibly started the whole environmental movement back in the 19th century and here we are now still burning the damn stuff. It does however serve as a reminder that we must keep our government accountable for the promises they have made in reducing carbon emissions. I'm sure we will all breath better when we finally leave it the ground where it belongs.

Coal is a scapegoat. Being able to project all your failures onto something else, is very convenient. Why bother fixing yourself, when you can misdirect your guilt and fix the world?

Does coal really deserve to be demonised?

The typical calorific value for anthracite (hard) coal is approx. 32.4 MJ/kg and for wood is approx. 19.8 MJ/kg at 0% moisture content. These are gross values but are sufficient for the following.

These values may be significantly affected by moisture content but we will ignore its effects here.

Assuming that both types of fuel are "bone dry", we can calculate that the calorific value of hard coal is approx. 1.65 times higher than that of wood, which means that we have to burn 1.65 times as much wood as coal to obtain the same heating effect (assuming the same boiler efficiency). The total losses in modern high capacity coal fired boilers are approx. 12 to 14%, giving 86 to 88 % efficiency.

On a dry basis, coal and wood yield very similar results in terms of CO2 produced per unit of energy (kg/GJ). These are approx. 109.6 kg/GJ for wood and 94.6 kg/GJ for coal. But if we have to burn approx. 1.65 times more wood than coal to get the same heating effect it follows that the emissions will also increase correspondingly, i.e. we end up with emitting roughly 1.65 more times of CO2 by burning wood instead of coal.

Is this the same old anti mob that caused mayhem for the Railways on or about the 5/12/20? Who is this 16YO spokesgirl Jana Al Thea? What gives her or anyone else the right to speak or act for about 15 or so law breaking protesters. Why didn't the Police move this rabble on in time to stop the delay of this freight train. That's NZ down there Scotty, Aye Captain Kirk, but not the way we knew it.

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