Sydney to Melbourne XPT derailed

The scene after a Sydney to Melbourne XPT derailed, killing two people.
Two people, including the driver, were killed when the Sydney-to-Melbourne XPT train carrying 160 passengers derailed in Victoria on Thursday night.

Four carriages were scattered across rail lines, leaving shaken passengers scrambling from the wreckage near Wallan, 47km north of Melbourne, at 7.50pm.

The train was 12 hours into its journey and running more than two hours late when carriages jack-knifed on a section of track where recent problems had forced delays.

Pictures showed one carriage lying on its side and another tilted off the track.

Passenger Scott Rickard posted photographs of the derailed train on a steep section of track that winds past pine forest.
Paramedics train derailment Sydney-Melbourne
© Jake Nowakowski
Paramedics treat one of the passengers injured in the train derailment.
"We just suddenly slid into a fast stop, carriage at an angle, stuff flying everywhere. Tray tables went flying," Dr Rickard said.

Dozens of passengers, some with injuries, climbed from the wrecked carriages as paramedics established a crisis centre. The distraught and injured were taken along the track and through scrub to a makeshift staging point outside a BP service station, where emergency services crews had set up lights and a line of ambulances sat waiting.

One man aged in his 70s said staff on the train had told passengers during a delay earlier in the journey that there were ongoing problems with the privately owned track and asked those on board to lodge complaints.

He said "heads should roll" over the derailment. "I just hope someone gets a kick in the pants over this, because it's not just happened, it's been ongoing," he said.

Alish Van Es, who had been travelling from country NSW to Melbourne, said it was a traumatic experience.

"It just happened so fast. It's just not something you'd expect," she said. "We're all just sitting there talking about the delays and that sort of thing, and then the next minute ... it just felt like a little bump at first, almost like turbulence. And then it started swaying left and right. Towards the end it felt like it was going over — I thought it was going to, but it didn't."

A Sydney passenger said: "I suppose we were going 80-90km/h. Next thing we know we're careering off the tracks, ­carriages going sideways. It didn't just stop, it just kept on going for probably 150m. and there's rails and things being thrown out, sleepers smashed, dust and dirt. Then we came to rest, and you've probably seen the end ­result."

Alina Ritzinger, a 21-year-old Swiss backpacker, said she felt a slight rattle, then heard a screech before luggage started falling all around her and the train veered off the tracks. "That was the scariest thing, seeing things falling around everywhere," Ms Ritzinger said. "Everyone was screaming. We could hear children crying. We were quite lucky we were at the back, carriage G. We were on the train for 20 minutes and then we got out. In the second carriage the people were trapped for quite a bit."
Sydney-Melbnourne train derailment

Richard Sherman posted a derailment image on Facebook.
The train, which had left Central Station in Sydney at 7.40am, had been due to arrive at Southern Cross Station in Melbourne at 6.30pm. The track at the crash site buckled and several carriages shifted at least 10m from the tracks.

That section of the line ­appeared to have had a fault just before the train derailed.

About 4pm, Victorian country train service V/Line tweeted that the ­Albury service was experiencing delays "by approximately 60 minutes due to an ongoing rail equipment fault near Wallan".

V/Line's Albury line trains have been continually delayed for up to an hour since February 10 due to the Wallan track faults.

One person was flown from the crash site to Melbourne for treatment at a ­hospital.

"A number of others will be taken to hospital with minor injuries," Ambulance Victoria said.

Federal Infrastructure and Transport Minister Michael McCormack issued a joint statement with his Victorian and NSW counterparts, Melissa Horne and Paul Toole, saying the federal, Victorian and NSW governments were working closely to support those involved in the incident.

"A range of support measures will be available to passengers, crew and their families," the ministers said.

"The Australian Transport Safety Bureau and the Office of the National Rail Safety Regulator will conduct a full and thorough investigation to establish the cause of the incident.

"Our thoughts are with all those involved and their loved ones."

The XPT fleet has experienced faults in the past year. The NSW operator cancelled some services in 2019 after discovering cracks in the trains. Canberra man James Ashburner, 69, was sitting by the window in the first passenger carriage when the train derailed.

He said it had been travelling "at 100-odd km/h and then things went strange". Mr Ashburner said that the woman seated in front of him suffered a blow to the back of her head and was bleeding profusely just behind the ear.

One of the nation's worst train crashes happened on the same line in February 1969. Then, nine people were killed when the XPT's predecessor, the Southern Aurora, collided head-on with an Albury-bound goods train at Violet Town.

Wallan is about 70km from Mangalore, where two planes collided on Wednesday, killing four people.

It is understood some of the emergency services crews which were called out to the Mangalore incident also attended the train crash.

Victorian Nationals deputy leader Steph Ryan, whose seat of Euroa takes in Mangalore, said the past few days had been "dreadful" for first responders.

"First the Mangalore aircrash and now a train derailment," Ms Ryan tweeted.

"Sending heartfelt condolences to the families of those who have lost loved ones in these awful tragedies."