A FREIGHT train derailment just south of Pyramid Hill yesterday could cut daily passenger train services from Bendigo to Swan Hill for up to nine days.
Fourteen carriages from the middle of the Pacific National train derailed on the O’Tooles Road level crossing at about 1am yesterday, spilling about a quarter of its grain and damaging 500 metres of track.
Both drivers escaped uninjured.
Crews began work to repair the track and salvage the wreckage, which is expected to take seven to nine days to complete.
Pyramid Hill Leading Senior Constable Jason Brady said it appeared a track fault had caused the derailment, but it was too early to speculate.
He was surprised more carriages hadn’t overturned and said it was lucky it wasn’t a passenger train and that the drivers were unharmed.
“The two drivers were shaken but not stirred,” he said.
“If it was a morning V/Line passenger train it could have been a whole different story, with a much more dire outcome,” he said.
A Pyramid Hill resident, who did not want to be named, woke at 1am, when the train was going through the town, and heard it making “strange sounds” as it was powering up.
“It definitely didn’t sound like it normally does,” the resident said.
Another anonymous Pyramid Hill resident said it was very rare to see a derailment in the region.
“I’ve been here 60 years and have certainly not seen that many at all,” she said.
“There was one a few years back where people had to escape via ladders and I’ll never forget that.
“But while this will inconvenience a few people, at least no one was hurt and that’s the main thing.”
The cargo was travelling from Piangil to North Geelong and GrainCorp spokesman Angus Trigg said it wasn’t clear whose grain was on the train.
“The train is a Pacific National train but it’s possible it could be leased by someone else. We’re not sure if it’s us,” he said.
Public Transport Victoria has launched an investigation into the derailment and attended the site yesterday. The Department of Sustainability and Environment also assessed the native vegetation area before repair works began.
It is the fourth derailment in Victoria so far this year; there were two passenger and nine non-passenger train derailments across the state in 2012.