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Coal train (not) coming

On 13 June, 29 Climate Camp activists wearing boiler suits saying “leave it in the ground” blockaded a coal train heading into the Drax power station in Yorkshire. During the 16-hour occupation, they shovelled around 30 tons of coal out of the train, onto the tracks. PN interviewed a London-based participant.

The best thing was probably shovelling the coal out of the train onto the lines. It was both fun and satisfying. The coal wasn’t in the train any more and it definitely wasn’t going to be burned.

The worst thing about the whole experience – for me – was not being given our books in the police station. For others, it was their houses being raided, and lots of stuff taken, including flatmates’ possessions. (Only people living in Wales didn’t get raided.)

There were three groups of activists. The train-stopping team waved red flags in front of the train, and wore orange boiler suits. They told the driver there were some people on the line (which only carries coal trains going to Drax).

The other two teams got the signal and piled out with all our supplies for staying as long as possible.

Everyone climbed up the sides into the first two wagons. We set up toilets (buckets and a tent) in both wagons. (The London team’s toilet was set up much quicker and much better than in the northern wagon.)

Leave it in the ground

The purpose of the action was to stop a train carrying coal from getting into Drax, to make a statement about the need to stop burning coal.

Much of what we do is symbolic. This was direct. We were stopping the flow of coal into Drax. There were 1,000 tons on the train, and 20 trains go into Drax every day, so we held them up as well - from 8am till the last people came down at midnight. The line didn’t re-open, I think, until sometime the next day.

The first police arrived in 40 minutes. They offered us food and water, to see if we had any. We said yes, and didn’t tell them what we had. They sent a helicopter to count us - and see what we had.

Finally, at 6pm, they sent in a cutting team, which took until 10pm. People were using steel tube lock-ons with clips inside. Though it was cold and raining, the people sitting up in the railway bridge didn’t come down for another two hours.

We were charged with obstructing the railway and conspiracy to obstruct the railway (maximum sentence two years). We’re bailed to appear in court for a hearing at the time of Climate Camp.

More details of the action: www.climatecamp.org.uk Guardian video of the coal train: tinyurl.com/3m9a7y

Topics: Climate Change