11 die in horrific rail tragedy
Posted by redracer on June 7, 2007
Victoria’s second worst rail accident occurred on Tuesday afternoon when a semi-trailer slammed into the side of a Vline passenger train at a level crossing.
At 1:40pm, a semi-trailer owned by the Wangaratta-based ‘Canny Carrying’ transport company, travelling from Adelaide to Wangaratta, failed to stop at a level crossing on the Murry Valley Highway 6 kms north of Kerang, a small town in north-western Victoria. It ploughed into the side of a Swan Hill to Melbourne bound Vline train, consisting of a loco and 3 passenger cars, containing around 40 passengers in total. Because of the angle of the crossing, and the fact that the driver of the truck appeared to try and swerve at the last moment, the truck hit the side of the second carriage, ripping the side out of most of the car, and then hitting the front of the 3rd carriage which became disconnected from the front of the train. Fortunately the train was able to stop without any of the carriages rolling over. 11 people have been confirmed dead, and as far as rescuers can see, there are now no more bodies to be found in the wreckage. At least 23 people were seriously injured and taken to various hospitals around the state.
This is the second worst rail disaster in Victoria since the accident in 1908 when 2 suburban trains collided at Sunshine killing 44 people, and the worst since 1969 when 9 people died after the Sydney-Melbourne express ‘Southern Aurora’, travelling at 120 kmh, collided head on with a goods train at Violet Town. The level crossing was fitted with warning bells and flashing lights, but no boom gates. The area around the crossing is an open flat plain and visibility is good for at least one kilometer in each direction. However 12 years ago a woman was killed when her car was hit by a train at the same location. Witnesses say that it appeared the truck did not slow down until just before the crossing, and reasons put forward include the sun in the driver’s eyes, or tiredness near the end of the long drive from Adelaide. The driver was one of the survivors, although now seriously injured in hospital.
I was born in Swan Hill, and most of my family on both sides lived in the area for many years, but having been away from the area for so long, I doubt that we would know any of the victims. However the funny thing is that just on a year ago, my wife & I travelled on exactly the same service to Swan Hill from Melbourne to attend my aunt’s funeral, however the section from Bendigo to Swan Hill was by bus not train.
This picture shows the crash site, and you can see the 3rd carriage near the bottom of the picture. the rest of the train is further to the south. The remains of the truck can be seen just to the north of the crossing.
Here you can see the loco and front two cars of the train just south of the crossing.
This is the wreckage of the track – it is amazing that the driver survived.
Here you can see the side of the 2nd carriage, which took the brunt of the collision.
Workers attempt to retrieve the last bodies from the wreckage.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to all those involved in this terrible tragedy.
Part 2 – 07/06/2007 23:30 – Latest news tonight is that police have charged the truck driver with one count of culpable driving !!! This seems crazy – at the very least he should be charged with eleven counts of manslaughter. A trucking authority spokesperson said that it was common for truck drivers to try and beat trains at level crossings, because the amount of time taken to slow down, stop, wait, and then get back up to speed again increased pressure on already tight delivery schedules :-(Also in just the last year, there were complaints from 5 different train drivers about near-miss incidents at this very crossing, which has already claimed a number of lives in the past. However the government’s reaction was to ‘paint some extra lines on the road’ and decided that nothing more need be done 😦
Do ‘normal’ people out there think these types of attitudes are crazy or what ❓