The sight of a line of train wagons being disassembled near Manildra flour mill can hardly escape notice at Narrandera.
The wagons are the property of the Manildra Group, but according to manager Aaron Hall, the wagons have unfortunately past their use-by date.
“They’re South Australian wagons built in the late ’60s, early ’70s. Mechanically they’re still safe, but there’s rust on them,” Mr Hall explained.
“They look good from a distance, but when you get up close it’s not too good.”
The rust has been causing a high maintenance bill, which has gradually outgrown the value of the wagons.
“It’s now cheaper to rent them out than maintain our own,” Mr Hall said.
“It’s a numbers game, I’m afraid.”
The wagons won’t be scrapped entirely; the Manildra Group plans to salvage parts from them to use on their remaining wagons.
“Our containers use the same wheels and bogie sets – it’s good to use the same bogies as well.”
The wagons will be sold on as scrap metal. The company responsible for dismantling the wagons is working for the cost of the scrap, so the Manildra Group is making no profit from the wagons’ retirement.
“It’s a bit of a shame; we don’t take any joy in it. They’re fine out here where we don’t get a lot of rain, but when you’re running them on the coast and you put sugar in them it doesn’t want to come out,” Mr Hall said.