Adani coal train stopped and taken over by activists in 20-hour protest

·Environment Editor
·4-min read

A coal train was halted and boarded by activists on a remote stretch of line in Central Queensland.

Just after 12pm (local time), state police told Yahoo News their negotiators remain on scene 10km from the town of Collinsville.

They were responding to protest action which began on Wednesday afternoon, beginning with a man locking himself to the tracks, blocking a haul of coal from Adani’s controversial Carmichael mine.

Two activists affiliated with Frontline Action on Coal shovel coal onto the ground after stopping a train. Source: Supplied
Two activists affiliated with Frontline Action on Coal shovel coal onto the ground after stopping a train. Source: Supplied

With the train unable to move forward, two Queensland-based-activists Franz Dowling (24) and Kyle Magee (38) began their roles in the protest operation.

“His main goal was to stop the train, so we could climb on,” Mr Dowling said.

“Then once the train was stopped, myself and (Mr Magee) hoisted ourselves up onto one of the carriages and we've been there ever since.”

Having occupied the train, the duo began hauling the coal down to the ground below.

Eighteen hours into their protest, they had built up two large piles of coal beneath them.

Conservation group Frontline Action on Coal say it's the third time in a month that coal trains have been stopped by activists on their way to port.

Tougher penalties needed to stop 'extremists', Adani argues

Adani, now trading as Bravus Mining and Resources, say recent protest actions against them are dangerous.

A spokesperson for the energy company said they hold "real concerns" about near misses with trains, adding they fear it is only a matter of time before an activist is seriously injured or killed.

Large piles of coal have been unloaded by activists who Adani have labelled as
Large piles of coal have been unloaded by activists who Adani have labelled as "extremists". Source: Supplied

The answer, Bravus argues, is tougher penalties for activists who engage in acts of "intimidation, harassment, or sabotage".

“The penalties in Queensland are clearly not sufficient to deter these extremists from deliberately and repeatedly breaking the law and do not reflect the seriousness of their crimes," an Bravus spokesperson said.

While respecting that "people have differing opinions" about the fossil fuel industry, the company argue they are being targeted by "professional protesters".

“The activists involved in these illegal protests are a small group of repeat offenders who think their ideology puts them above the law, and this latest act is another example of them running riot after receiving soft sentences."

Father of two terrified for his kids' future amid climate crisis

As the two activists spoke with Yahoo News just before 12pm, their water supply was critically low and they were slowing down.

Mr Magee is a father of two children, aged nine and three, and is experienced in protesting against the fossil fuel industry.

Shouting across to Mr Dowling, who was holding the phone, he said he was taking action against Bravus because he was “terrified” about what the climate crisis would mean for his kids’ future.

While Mr Dowling said he was protesting because he has been listening to scientists about the impact of the coal industry on the planet, but also revealed his faith played a part in his decision.

Activist commits to Adani protest after 'intense day of prayer'

Mr Dowling is loosely associated environmental group Frontline Action on Coal, but as a Christian, he says he is primarily driven by his commitment to his religion.

He said his fight to lessen the impact of the climate crisis is inspired by his interpretation of a Catholic Catechism that followers must "protect creation".

His decision to take part in the protest was made on Sunday morning, when he booked a train ticket at 1am after an “intense day of prayer”.

“I just suddenly felt very, very at peace with the idea and jumped on a train for 16 hours the next day,” he said.

“I didn't know anyone here and everything is just kind of falling into place.

“It seems very, very divine to me, really like I’m being directed by God.”

Mr Dowling said he expected to be arrested soon and be taken to the watch house or jail.

“I’m looking forward to a big rest later on,” he said.

Around an hour after speaking with Yahoo News, Mr Dowling climbed down from the carriage.

Following publication of this article, Queensland Police confirmed the incident was resolved at approximately 2.40pm. Two people are in custody and charges have not been laid at this time.

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