Two people have died and several others are injured after a Sydney-to-Melbourne train carrying passengers derailed in Victoria injuring several passengers.
Commuters were left trapped when the diesel locomotive and five carriages derailed near Wallan station, 45 kilometres north of Melbourne, on the North East line about 7:45pm on Thursday.
Emergency services worked late into Thursday night and rail lines between Melbourne and Sydney have been closed.
Police confirmed early Friday morning two had died, including the male driver. The two deceased were travelling in the driver’s carriage.
“I imagine as a first responder who turned up it would have been looking like a horrific scene,” Victoria Police Acting Inspector Peter Fusinato said.
“I’m very surprised there weren’t more serious injuries … quite a miracle really.”
There are reports one man was injured while trying to save the driver, and Insp Fusinato said he expected further stories of bravery would emerge.
About 20 people remain unaccounted for and police have asked people who left the scene without speaking to emergency services, or who bought tickets but didn’t board the train, to get in touch.
The Seymour Line had a history of delays and cancellations due to an “ongoing rail equipment fault” near Wallan, according to V-Line’s Twitter feed.
“Due to an investigation with NSW Train Link service near Wallan, all Seymour, Shepparton and Albury train services will be replaced by road coaches until further notice,” V-Line said on Friday.
“Customers travelling between Donnybrook and Southern Cross may consider using Metropolitan services between Craigieburn and Southern Cross to complete their journey.”
At least three helicopters were deployed to a scene the CFA described as “very chaotic”.
The Australian Transport Safety Bureau confirmed 160 passengers were on-board the train and some had been injured.
A man in his 60s was taken to the Royal Melbourne Hospital in a stable condition with an upper-body injury while 11 others were taken to local hospitals with minor injuries.