Two people were killed and several injured after the Sydney to Melbourne XPT derailed in Victoria on Thursday night.
The Country Fire Authority (CFA) said the diesel locomotive and five carriages derailed near Wallan station, 45km north of Melbourne, on the North East line at about 8pm.
Video and images posted to social media showed carriages lying on their side next to the tracks.
Ambulance Victoria said one person had been airlifted to Melbourne for medical treatment and four others were taken to hospital in a stable condition. It is believed the two deceased were travelling in the drivers’ carriage.
The train, which left Central station in Sydney at 7.40am, had been due to arrive at Southern Cross station in Melbourne at 6.30pm. It was running more than two hours late at the time of the crash.
About 160 passengers were on board when it derailed. The rail lines between Melbourne and Sydney were closed following the incident.
All passengers who were able to walk from the train were taken to the Wallan McDonald’s and BP station area, which was being used as a triage centre. By 9pm, the CFA said the rescue had been completed.
Speaking from the triage centre, a Sydney couple who had taken the train to visit their son in Melbourne said the derailment had been terrifying.
“You just hang on for grim death. You’re being thrown around, the things going along tilting over and all, you can look out the window and just see dirt and debris and stuff flying up past the windows and the track itself is just twisted and bent,” the man said.
“It probably went about 150 metres before it stopped. There were carriages going sideways – pretty horrifying.”
The woman said her thoughts were with those who had died. “We’re very sad about that. Two people who went off to work this morning and never went home,” she said.
James Ashburner, 69, from Canberra, told the Herald Sun he was sitting in the first passenger carriage when the train derailed.
“There was a lot of noise and suddenly there was dust, the train was swaying a lot,” he said. “I didn’t realise that we had derailed until we came to a stop.
“Initially we were all just stunned, people went flying, stuff went flying. A couple of people had been standing in the aisle and they really went flying. For some minutes we were just milling about seeing who needed assistance and what sort of assistance.”
The Australian Rail Track Corporation has been contacted for comment.