Nestlé speeding truck crash

Nestlé Purina fully laden semi-trailer crash at Medlow Bath, Blue Mountains


On Saturday 25th May 2019 at about 7:00 am a truck crashed on the Great Western Highway just north of Medlow Bath spilling all it’s cargo.  The crash occurred on a straight road section.  The driver was either speeding, distracted (mobile phone?) or fell asleep at the wheel.

The truck was carting over 30 tonnes of pet food from the Nestlé Purina processing factory in Blayney to Sydney.  The eastbound truck took down a power pole as it rolled just past Railway Parade, bringing down wires and creating an extra hazard in the area.

No only did the crash cause damage to vegetation and power lines and poles, but the highway was completely blocked for two hours in both directions, causing considerable traffic delays for travellers and locals alike.  Power had to be turned off in the area for two hours. 

Eventually a contra flow was put in place and a large crane and heavy tow truck removed the wrecked semi-trailer.  Local volunteers were called in to remove the pet food strewn along the road and the shoulder.  Perhaps a few Blue Mountains dogs and cats benefited from a free feed for a few weeks afterwards.

Nestlé Purina pet food strewn for 100 metres on the Great Western Highway

Why is Nestlé despatching its truck drivers to drive at breakneck speed on country roads to earn a quid?   The crash site is just short of a 60 kph speed sign on the southbound approach to Medlow Bath.   The truck driver must have ignored the sign and been hooning along at 90kph with his top heavy load.   It is typical of the speeding and tail-gaiting of large linehaul trucks that use and abuse the Great Western Highway.       

Nestlé is ultimately responsible for the crash and damage through the supplier chain of command.   Australia’s Heavy Vehicle National Law was amended on 1st October 2018, to provide that every party in the heavy vehicle transport supply chain has a duty to ensure the safety of their transport activities.

Nestlé must therefore publicly accept its chain of responsibility, announce its financial compensation sum for the impact to the Blue Mountains, and outline of its financial compensation package to the Blue Mountains – the reimbursement cost of involved emergency services, the reimbursement cost of infrastructure damage (power lines and poles) and reinstating the power, the economic loss of causing the GWH to be impassible for 2-3 hours, and to publicly apologise in the Blue Mountains Gazette with an undertaking to review and imprive its logistics safety standards.

Blayney, a small town situated 240 km west of Sydney (130km west of the crash site), has its own rail freight service, so why does Swiss multinational food and drink company Nestlé avoid the perfectly good rail service which has a rail siding right next to the Nestle Purina Pet Care plant in Jarman Crescent, Blayney.

Since 1994, Blayney’s intermodal terminal provides direct import/export rail link to Sydney Ports, replete with cold storage and warehousing.

Nearby Bathurst (Kelso) business Grainforce Commodities freights 250,000 tonnes of product annually into Port Botany (Sydney), the equivalent of keeping 10,000 trucks off the road.  Nestlé  could learn from Grainforce and help keep these dangerous speeding trucks off the Great Western Highway.

In 2017,  NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro announced replacing the entire NSW regional train fleet and building a new train maintenance facility at Dubbo.   It is one of the largest procurements of trains in Australia.  This was welcomed by lobby group Lachlan Regional Transport Committee (LRTC) and has urged the state government to give more attention to strategic planning for the future rail network.

LRTC President Dom Figliomeni said at the time, “It’s very important that we do get an efficient rail network within NSW.   Lines including the partially-built Maldon-Dombarton line and the Blayney-Demondrille line needed to be part of the long-term rail planning strategy, and “unfortunately” at the moment they did not seem to be, Mr Figliomeni said.   It is an indication rail must and needed to play a more significant part, whether it was passenger rail or freight rail.  A more significant part of the logistics network within NSW,” he said.

“Unfortunately particularly regional rail has been allowed to languish for many years and I think the current government is realising we really need to bring it up to standard.  As I say there is still a lot of work that needs to be done, there’s the location of intermodal facilities, there’s a lot of work being done at Parkes, particularly in relation to the inland rail.”

The New South Wales state government is encouraging rail freight from the Central West.   In June 2018, Freight Minister Melinda Pavey announced plans to construct two rail loops near Blayney at Georges Plains and south of Rydal to facilitate reduced train turn around times.  “The two loops will ensure the nine million tonnes of freight transported annually along the western corridor moves more efficiently, reducing the cost of getting export freight to port and domestic freight to markets,” she said.

Ms Pavey said the $21.5 million Main Western Rail Line Capacity Enhancement programme will help rail operators to meet the growing demand for freight on the corridor, reducing the demand for road freight without negatively impacting passenger services that run along the line.  The two loops will ensure the nine million tonnes of freight transported annually along the western corridor moves more efficiently, reducing the cost of getting export freight to port and domestic freight to markets.

L to R:  Bathurst MP Paul Toole, NSW Freight Minister Melinda Pavey and Grainforce managing director Derek Larnach at Blayney Railway Station

Nestlé Purina PetCare set up in Blayney in 1989 and in 2014 expanded, creating an additional 100 jobs, but then in August 2018 retrenched fourteen staff in what Nestlé called a ‘lean mapping exercise’ (Activity Based Costing).  Prior to the review the company had performed a similar review within their salaried roles resulting in six positions becoming redundant.

In August 2006, Nestlé Purina cut 44 jobs from its pet food plant, in apparent response to losing export sales of pet food to Japan.  The Blayney workforcer was suddenly cut by 20 per cent.


Further Reading:


[1]  ‘All-day delays after Medlow Bath truck crash‘, 20190527, by Ilsa Cunningham, Blue Mountains Gazette, Springwood (NSW), ^


[2]  ‘Great Western Highway crash: Long delays at Medlow Bath‘, 20190525, by Murray Nicholls, The Western Advocate, Bathurst (NSW), ^


[3] ‘Lachlan Regional Transport Committee welcomes NSW government regional rail announcement‘, 20170817, by Faye Wheeler, Daily Liberal (online),  Dubbo (NSW), Australian Community Media network owned by Nine Entertainment, ^


[4]  ‘Nestle Purina cut 14 roles at Blayney plant.‘, 20180815, by Mark Logan, Blayney Chronicle newspaper, Blayney (NSW), ^


[5]  ‘NSW Freight and rail customers in the loop with $21.5m project‘, 20180614, by Nadine Morton,  in The Western Advocate newspaper, Bathurst (NSW),  ^


[6]  ‘Blayney Nestle Purina PetCare expansion adds jobs‘, 20141014, by Nadine Morton, in The Western Advocate newspaper, Bathurst (NSW), ^


[7]   National Heavy Vehicle Regulator, ^




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