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Train crash nightmare

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By Steph McNicol

EMERGENCY services were called to the derailment of a Sydney to Melbourne train in Wallan last week, a scene described by passengers as ‘shocking’ and a ‘nightmare’.

The XPT train came off the tracks just north of Wallan East, which resulted in one carriage overturning.

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The driver, 54-year-old ACT man John Kennedy, and pilot, a 49-year-old Castlemaine man, died at the scene.

Emergency services set up a patient triage at Wallan BP southbound service station, between the Hume Freeway and the crash site, to treat 11 patients for non-life threatening injuries – one man was airlifted to hospital for an upper body injury.

Passengers of the Melbourne bound train, sisters Joan Marks and Ivy Bell, described the event as shocking.

“I heard my sister say, ‘we’re flying’, and the next minute everything went swaying … everything was flying,” Ms Marks said.

The XPT train was travellling from Sydney to Melbourne when it derailed just north of Wallan East. ​

Mitchell Area Inspector Peter Koger said it was amazing more people weren’t hurt in the accident.

“I think we’re very lucky. It’s a tragedy that unfortunately the pilot and the driver were killed in the accident, but to have only 11 passengers of 153 with minor injuries is amazing,” he said.

Mr Koger said on Friday first responders on scene were met with passengers ‘scrambling to get off the train’.

“The first responders established control of the scene and ensured that the passengers were escorted off the train and taken to a contact point where we could account for them and they were treated from there,” he said.

“At this point I am more dealing with the victims, ensuring the emergency services are all treated well and that we’ve got welfare in place for them, and also ensuring that the investigation is thorough.

“We are making contact with each of the passengers and ensuring their welfare will be taken in hand.”

Regional Transport Minister Paul Toole, Mitchell Mayor David Lowe, Mitchell Area Inspector Peter Koger, Member for Yan Yean Danielle Green, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Transport Michael McCormack, Member for McEwen Rob Mitchell, state Public Transport Minister Melissa Horne at a press conference at the crash site on Friday

Emergency services included 10 Country Fire Authority, nine Melbourne Metropolitan Fire Brigade and nine State Emergency Service vehicles, along with police and ambulance crews, attended the crash.

Member for McEwen Rob Mitchell said it was a ‘horrific site’ and all passengers would suffer from the experience.

“We have two families grieving today, but really we have 150 families grieving today, every person that was on that train will be suffering the impacts from it – particularly those who wake up today and find that one of their loved ones is gone forever,” Mr Mitchell said.

Mitchell Shire Mayor David Lowe said the incident was a tragedy.

“This is my shire, this is my ward so it’s not a good thing to happen,” he said.

“It’s difficult to comfort anybody in these circumstances, this is a tragedy, doesn’t matter how you look at it – this is a terrible tragedy,” he said.

“We understand that our residents use the line, the railway is incredibly important to the whole of the shire, not just to Wallan, and it’s important that we find out what went wrong and put it right and make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

An investigation into all factors contributing to the crash will be done by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau.

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