Train collision in Australia kills up to 12 commuters

RESCUE WORKERS were still cutting into the wreckage of Australia's second-worst rail disaster last night, in the Blue Mountains, west of Sydney. Up to 12 people may have died.

Eighteen Britons were on the trans-continental Indian Pacific tourist train from Perth to Sydney yesterday. All of them escaped unhurt.

Stephen Bradford, chief executive officer of Great Southern Railways, the British-based firm that has owned and operated the Indian Pacific since it was privatised two years ago, said: "Our information suggests there were 18 people from the UK among the 27 international tourists on the Indian Pacific. To our knowledge, none of them were injured."

Survivors praised the driver of the inter-city passenger train, which was heading for Sydney in the morning rush hour with 450 people on board when it crashed into the back of the Indian Pacific.

Just before the impact, the driver slammed on the emergency brakes and ran back into the front carriage, shouting at passengers to brace themselves and get down. One passenger said: "His action probably prevented a much more horrific accident." Police said the driver survived.

Rail authorities said the double-decker commuter train may have been travelling at 50mph (80kph) when it crashed near Glenbrook, a small town at the base of the Blue Mountains, 35 miles from Sydney. The commuter train's front carriage crashed into the Indian Pacific's tail carriage, which was stacked with cars. The crash destroyed much of the two-deck commuter train's lower level, where all of the dead and many of the 50 injured passengers were.

Michael Irik, a passenger on the commuter train, said: "Seats went flying, people went flying, goods went flying."

Graham Field, an ambulance spokesman, said it was lucky the back car of the Indian Pacific was loaded with passengers' vehicles. "If the last carriage of the Indian Pacific was carrying passengers, we would have had a lot more dead and injured," he said.

The cause of the accident was still unclear last night. The Indian Pacific, a luxury twice-weekly train between Australia's east and west coasts, had stopped inexplicably by the Blue Mountains, near the end of its three- day journey. The commuter train had started its journey in Lithgow, about 90 miles west of Sydney, on the western side of the mountains. Officials from the New South Wales (NSW) State Rail Authority, which runs the train, said the driver was unaware of the stationary Indian Pacific in front of him until he turned a bend in a cutting and saw it.

Simon Lane, of State Rail, indicated that a signal failure could have been to blame. He said "all the evidence we have been able to ascertain" indicated that the signal system had worked "completely safely". But he acknowledged there was a possibility of a "minor defect" that could have caused a red signal to stay locked in place. The NSW state government has ordered a judicial inquiry into the accident.

Emergency workers had recovered the bodies of a boy, four women and a man from the wreckage by Thursday night. Another body was visible. Bob Carr, the state premier, said up to 12 people could be dead.

Irene Barnes, a passenger on the Indian Pacific, told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation that a short announcement made just before the collision gave a hint that something was wrong. "I heard them say, `Sorry, ladies and gentlemen, but we will be delayed here for a while because of the signal.' And then, all of a sudden, we were in the air, the whole lot of us flying around everywhere."

The crash brought back chilling memories of Australia's worst train disaster, in 1977. More than 80 passengers died when a bridge collapsed on to a commuter train in Granville, a suburb of Sydney.

Life and Style
LifeReddit asked a simple question with infinite answers this week
Life and Style
Pepper, the 3ft 11in shiny box of circuits who can tell jokes and respond to human emotions
techDavid McNeill tests the mettle of one of the new generation of androids being developed in Tokyo
Life and Style
beauty
Arts and Entertainment
Armando Iannucci, the creator of 'The Thick of It' says he has
tvArmando Iannucci to concentrate on US show Veep
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Sport
Luis Suarez looks towards the crowd during the 2-1 victory over England
transfers
Sport
German supporters (left) and Argentina fans
world cup 2014Final gives England fans a choice between to old enemies
Arts and Entertainment
A still from the worldwide Dawn of the Planet of the Apes trailer debut
film
News
peopleMario Balotelli poses with 'shotgun' in controversial Instagram pic
News
A mugshot of Ian Watkins released by South Wales Police following his guilty pleas
peopleBandmates open up about abuse
Sport
Basketball superstar LeBron James gets into his stride for the Cleveland Cavaliers
sportNBA superstar announces decision to return to Cleveland Cavaliers
Sport
Javier Mascherano of Argentina tackles Arjen Robben of the Netherlands as he attempts a shot
world cup 2014
Arts and Entertainment
The successful ITV drama Broadchurch starring David Tenant and Olivia Coleman came to an end tonight
tv
Sport
Four ski officials in Slovenia have been suspended following allegations of results rigging
sportFour Slovenian officials suspended after allegations they helped violinist get slalom place
News
14 March 2011: George Clooney testifies before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during a hearing titled 'Sudan and South Sudan: Independence and Insecurity.' Clooney is co-founder of the Satellite Sentinel Project which uses private satellites to collect evidence of crimes against civilian populations in Sudan
people
Arts and Entertainment
Balaban is indirectly responsible for the existence of Downton Abbey, having first discovered Julian Fellowes' talents as a screenwriter
tvCast members told to lose weight after snacking on set
Life and Style
More than half of young adults have engaged in 'unwanted but consensual sexting with a committed partner,' according to research
tech
Life and Style
A binge is classed as four or more alcoholic drinks for women and five or more for men, consumed over a roughly two-hour period
tech
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

BC2

£50000 - £70000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Business Analyst Consultant (Fina...

SAP Data Migration Consultant

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client, a FTSE 100 organisation are u...

Programme Support, Coms, Bristol, £300-350p/d

£300 - £350 per day + competitive: Orgtel: My client, a leading bank, is curre...

Linux Systems Administrator

£33000 per annum + pension, 25 days holiday: Ashdown Group: A highly successfu...

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice