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.

Voices
voicesGood for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, writes Grace Dent
News
The University of California study monitored the reaction of 36 dogs
sciencePets' range of emotions revealed
Life and Style
fashion Designs are part of feminist art project by a British student
News
Joining forces: young British men feature in an Isis video in which they urge Islamists in the West to join them in Iraq and Syria
newsWill the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?
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
Arts and Entertainment
The nomination of 'The Wake' by Paul Kingsnorth has caused a stir
books
Arts and Entertainment
The Tour de France peloton rides over a bridge on the Grinton Moor, Yorkshire, earlier this month
film
News
Snoop Dogg pictured at The Hollywood Reporter Nominees' Night in February, 2013
people... says Snoop Dogg
News
i100
Life and Style
food + drinkZebra meat is exotic and lean - but does it taste good?
Arts and Entertainment
Residents of Derby Road in Southampton oppose filming of Channel 4 documentary Immigration Street in their community
tv
Voices
voicesSiobhan Norton on why she eventually changed her mind
News
i100
Extras
indybest
Sport
Scottish singer Susan Boyle will perform at the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony in Glasgow
commonwealth games
Arts and Entertainment
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson stars in Hercules
filmReview: The Rock is a muscular Davy Crockett in this preposterous film, says Geoffrey Macnab
Life and Style
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
Latest stories from i100
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

BI Manager - £50,000

£49000 - £55000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client is...

BI Project Manager - £48,000 - £54,000 - Midlands

£48000 - £54000 per annum + Benefits package: Progressive Recruitment: My clie...

VB.Net Developer

£35000 - £45000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: If you're pa...

SAP Business Consultant (SD, MM and FICO), £55,000, Wakefield

£45000 - £55000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: SAP Business...

Day In a Page

Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Climate change threatens to make the antarctic fur seal extinct

Take a good look while you can

How climate change could wipe out this seal
Man Booker Prize 2014 longlist: Crowdfunded novel nominated for first time

Crowdfunded novel nominated for Booker Prize

Paul Kingsnorth's 'The Wake' is in contention for the prestigious award
Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

A $25m thriller starring Sam Worthington to be made in God's Own Country
Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
Why do we have blood types?

Are you my type?

All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

Honesty box hotels

Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes