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Melbourne train crash - investigation begins


No rail fault in fatal truck-train crash, preliminary investigation suggests
Date November 4, 2012 - 6:21PM 74
One killed as train and truck collide       This article contains video and photo footage at the original site at : http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/no-rail-fault-in-fatal-trucktrain-crash-preliminary-investigation-suggests-20121104-28rs7.html
RAW VISION: One person is dead and others injured after a train and a truck collided in Melbourne's south-east.

A preliminary safety investigation into a fatal truck and train crash in Melbourne's south-east has found no faults with the rail network.

Three investigations are under way into the level-crossing collision that killed one man and sent 13 others to hospital yesterday.

Police say a prime mover smashed through boom gates and into the path of a six-carriage Metro service at the Abbotts Road crossing in Dandenong South at 11.42am.

Transport Safety Victoria director Alan Osborne says preliminary results from the crash scene reveal that nothing was wrong with the train, the rail or the level-crossing warnings before the crash.

"There's nothing at this stage that is leaping out at us saying there was a problem with the infrastructure," he said.

"Certainly from witness accounts we know the lights were working, the bells were working and the boom gates were down, but we'll need to check the computer systems just to confirm that it was a proper and smooth operation."

He said authorities will likely have a more definitive result by the end of the week after examining train and track data on speed, signalling logs, maintenance records as well as possible distractions like sun glare or obstructions.

Seaford plumber Mick McGuigan was travelling behind the truck when it entered the intersection.

"He tried to brake. He locked it up just at the last minute. I don't think he realised the barrier was down because I was behind him and he's locked the back brakes and the trailer brakes came on.

"Then he realised that he couldn't stop and he tried to negotiate the barrier. He tried to drive around it. I think that's when he saw the train."

Mr McGuigan said after the train collected the truck, he ran toward the carriages.

"I wasn't interested in the truck driver because I thought he was dead."

He said he ran to the cabin, not expecting to find the train driver alive.

"I thought he'd be in bits.

"The train had jack-knifed and was on its side so the only way I could get in was climb up over the top and jump through the window.

"There was another chap with me. He spotted the driver's foot hanging out of all of the rubble.

"As I entered the train I couldn't see nothing but ... it was just a bomb site.

"He [the other man] yelled out to me and said he'd found a foot.

"As I came down I said 'where is he, I can't see him'.

"He was buried under a mound of dirt and potatoes and stuff that had come off the truck.

"I started digging him out so I could find his head.

"Guys were coming up behind me, so they were helping me move all the bags of spuds off his head.

"That front section was just buried in a couple of metres of mud and debris.

"I had asked all the other passengers if there was anyone in the front compartment and no one knew if there was anyone in there.

"But there was a lady in there because I stepped over her as I made my way down to the front.

"The young blokes who I told to search under the train and next to the train ... found her hanging out of a window.

"So they pulled a chair off her and got her out."

Mr McGuigan said that it was often difficult to see across the tracks at that point in the line.

"I just feel sorry for everyone on the bloody train and the driver of the truck," he said.

Michael Kane from Precision Plumbing was opposite the crash site.

"The train was pretty much smashed sidewards and the truck was nearly blasted in a million pieces. It was just chaos," he said.

Police have already interviewed and released the 69-year-old truck driver after seizing his phone and taking a blood sample.

A police spokeswoman said today no charges had been laid and the investigation - one of three now underway - continues.
Workers began clearing the scene this morning. Cranes worked to move the badly damaged carriages, while one less-damaged carriage was able to be moved away by a locomotive.
Three train stations will remain out of service between Cranbourne and Dandenong for the rest of the week.

Preliminary investigations suggest that the fatal crash was not the fault of the rail network. Photo: Shannon Morris
But train network operator Metro said it wasn't expecting any major disruptions on the rest of the train network despite the Spring Racing Carnival.

Killed in the crash was a 43-year-old Cranbourne West man, who was found trapped under rubble in the front carriage.

Police have yet to release his name.
The 30-year-old train driver was trapped in his crumpled cabin for an hour before paramedics could take him to hospital, where he remains in an induced coma. He suffered lower body injuries while the injured passengers had mainly cuts and bruises.

In addition to the police case and the safety report by Transport Safety Victoria, a third investigation into the crash will be undertaken by the Office of the Chief Investigator to probe any potential systemic issues.

It is the second fatal crash at the intersection in four years, but safety authorities don't believe there is a major issue with the level crossing itself.

Driver behaviour around level crossings earlier this year prompted Transport Safety Victoria to issue a warning after seeing a big jump in near misses as motorists drove around boom gates.

"Level crossings are extremely safe if they are properly used, but some people take incredible risks just to save a little bit of time," Mr Osborne said.

A spokeswoman from The Alfred hospital said one man and one woman remained in a serious but stable condition.

Click for more photos

Metro train fatal crash in Dandenong South
Scene of a Metro train collision with a semi-trailer in Dandenong South. Photo: Shannon Morris
View all 16 photos  at : http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/no-rail-fault-in-fatal-trucktrain-crash-preliminary-investigation-suggests-20121104-28rs7.html
Speaking from the crash scene today, opposition transport spokeswoman Fiona Richardson said Victorian governments for nearly 100 years had failed to act on level-crossing safety.
‘‘The truth is that in the 1920s the NSW government actually took on the task of fixing every level crossing around the state,’’ she said.
‘‘I think that successive governments since then in Victoria haven’t actually taken up that task, of all sort of flavours and all sorts of political persuasions.’’
Transport Minister Terry Mulder also admitted there had been failures.
‘‘There has been systemic neglect and a lack of investment in level crossings which the government has sought to address through its record $5.8 billion infrastructure spend with a particular focus on the grade separation program,’’ Mr Mulder said.
The government has so far confirmed funding for the removal of five level crossings with another seven planned.
With AAP

Read more: http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/no-rail-fault-in-fatal-trucktrain-crash-preliminary-investigation-suggests-20121104-28rs7.html#ixzz2BFwIlNdU

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