Investigators have finished preliminary work at the site of a train derailment, which killed the driver and pilot north of Melbourne.
Investigators have finished preliminary work at the site of a train that derailed north of Melbourne, killing two, with plans underway to remove the wreck.
The train's driver, 54-year-old Canberra resident John Kennedy, and his pilot, a 49-year-old man from Castlemaine in Victoria, died when the Sydney to Melbourne XPT diesel locomotive and five carriages derailed at Wallan on Thursday night.
Eleven of the train's 160 passengers were also injured.
Investigators from the Australian Transport Safety Bureau spent today examining the scene of the derailment, looking at the maintenance of the train and railway as well as signalling data.
The track and train were then handed back to their respective owners: the federal body in charge of track maintenance, the Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC), andTransport for NSW, which operates the XPT service.
A spokeswoman for the ARTC said it was preparing the site "for the recovery and safe removal of the train carriages and locomotives".
"The site is being carefully controlled to ensure the safety of all those who are now involved in the site recovery and repair," she said.
"We acknowledge that the community wants to understand what caused the accident. We are providing full support to the ongoing investigation which will look at all potential factors."
The spokeswoman would not comment on any potential causes, though speed is a factor being looked at.
It was reported the train was supposed to slow to 15km/h as it was diverted through a different part of track near Wallan station.Some passengers from the XPT have said it was speeding when it derailed.
A Sydney man described "hanging on for grim death" as the train came off the tracks.
"It probably went about 150 metres before it stopped, there were carriages going sideways - pretty horrifying," he said.
Passenger Leyon Gray estimated the train was "probably doing 80 or 90km/h" before everyone was thrown out of their seats.
Some passengers also claimed there was an onboard announcement saying the driver was trying to make up for a lost time before the crash. Police would not confirm this.
The Rail, Tram and Bus Union said the train came off a section of track awaiting maintenance.
"Conditions were altered and V/Line drivers rightly refused to traverse this section over the past week," secretary Luba Grigorovitch said.
The Victorian Nationals' deputy leader Steph Ryan raised concerns about the rail line with the state government days before the crash and after another train was derailed further up the line in January.
ButDeputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack was not aware of complaints by drivers about the safety of the section of the track.
"No authority would let passengers travel on unsafe track," he told reporters at the scene.
"We will ensure that proper answers are found for the bereaved families and making sure these sorts of things don't happen again."
It's expected to take days to clear the tracks, with buses set to replace all Seymour, Shepparton and Albury train services until further notice.
The ATSB is to release a preliminary report in about a month, ahead of a final report in 18 months.
Source: 9News https://www.9news.com.au/national/wallan-train-investigators-finish-preliminary-work-at-the-site-derailment/09e12b50-c7ec-4ade-a26d-63821fb8a36e