Bendigo train, car collide near Kangaroo Flat

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UPDATE, THURSDAY, 7.15am: V/Line has warned commuters to expect major disruptions on the Bendigo line after a train struck an abandoned car yesterday.

Trains will today run between Southern Cross and Castlemaine, connecting with coaches to Bendigo, Epsom and Eaglehawk.

Swan Hill services will run as trains between Bendigo and Swan Hill, connecting with coaches to Southern Cross.

The disruptions are expected to continue until at least this afternoon. 

UPDATE 7pm: V/Line staff are expected to work through the night to get the derailed train at Kangaroo Flat back on track.

Low-hanging powerlines that supply Castlemaine are proving a hindrance to getting a crane on site.

UPDATE 5.45pm: The driver of the 4WD is assisting police with their inquiries following today’s derailment. 

Bendigo Highway Patrol Acting Sergeant Brendan Keegan said the vehicle travelled about 65 metres after being struck by the train. 

UPDATE 4.36pm: Ambulance Victoria has confirmed two people – a man and a woman – were taken to Bendigo hospital for treatment following today’s derailment.

Four other people were assessed at the scene by paramedics.​

UPDATE 4.20pm: V/Line says the car at the centre of this afternoon’s derailment at Kangaroo Flat was “illegally crossing” the track when it became stuck.

A spokeswoman also said the track had sustained damage from the impact and will require repairs before train services can resume.

There were about 80 passengers, a conductor, driver and driver trainer on board when the train hit a 4WD abandoned on the track about 2pm.

UPDATE 3.50pm: All passengers have been transported onward, but emergency services remain at the scene.

Their attention now turns to how to remove the train from the tracks.

Picture: GLENN DANIELS

Picture: GLENN DANIELS

UPDATE 3.35pm: Lauren Hall was sitting three seats from the front in the first carriage.

She said she saw "half the car" go past the train after impact, before the window was splattered with oil.

Ms Hall said all the passengers went quiet after the incident, but once she said she had seen a car, people starting commenting that they hoped no one was injured.

She was returning home to Echuca from the Guns ’N Roses concert.

"There was more drama today than what we had at the show," she said.

Picture: GLENN DANIELS

Picture: GLENN DANIELS

UPDATE 3.30pm: Francis Lias from Echuca said he was in the third carriage of the train. 

"We felt an impact at our end of the cabin. It wasn't too significant. Then there was a lot of dust and stones flying past the carriages," Mr Lias said. 

"We didn't realise we had derailed until V/Line staff came and told us."

Mr Lias said V/Line staff responded well to the emergency. 

"They said it was an abandoned car but we since believe the driver was at the scene but not in the car," he said. 

"So we disembarked safely. I had some mates I didn't know were here in the front carriage. They said it was a significant impact. 

"We waited on the train for about 10 or 15 minutes. I helped a few people get their bags off the train."

Picture: GLENN DANIELS

Picture: GLENN DANIELS

Megan Dunn and Brendan Kenna were also in the third carriage. 

"I thought the driver had just seen something and slammed on the brakes," Ms Dunn said. 

"Staff handled it pretty well and told us what happened and to wait while they organised buses."

Mr Kenna said he and Ms Dunn were heading for Echuca after seeing Guns ’N Roses in Melbourne on Tuesday night. 

"They were awesome but it was a weird way to end the trip," he said. 

Picture: GLENN DANIELS

Picture: GLENN DANIELS

UPDATE 3.20pm: Alan Heard was travelling in the second carriage of the train when he heard "a hell of a bang" after the train had momentarily decelerated.

He said he then saw gravel, dust and smoke billow up as the train left the tracks.

Mr Heard said he guessed the train travelled for about 300 to 400 metres before coming to a stop.

There were some exclamations from passengers, he said.

He said the train passed the southbound train only minutes before, so guessed the vehicle that caused the derailment had only recently been put on the tracks.

"The carriage could have tipped over, it could have been a real disaster," he said.

Two other passengers, Tanya Hunt and Janine McLachlan, commended train and emergency services workers for their handling of the situation.

"I think it's been handled really well," Ms McLachlan said.

She said passengers were fairly calm.

"I feel sorry for the driver more than anything," she said.

Ms McLachlan said the conductor checked everyone was OK.

Emergency services arrived quickly and were at the scene before passengers were escorted from the train.

Ms Hunt said it was "pretty scary", but the driver did a good job.

UPDATE 3.15pm: Bendigo police Senior Sergeant Peter Wardell says the train has derailed and all trains to and from Melbourne will be cancelled until an investigation has occurred and the line is handed back to V/Line.

He says the passengers were excellent and well-organised.

"They weren't hysterical, it's been very good.''

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He said the Bendigo bound Melbourne train struck the vehicle about 2pm and police were treating it as 'misadventure - a pure accident'.

“The driver of the vehicle wasn't with the car at the time the accident occurred,” Senior Sergeant Wardell said.

“We believe the vehicle got stuck on the line and he went to seek help, and before help arrived the train arrived.”

The train driver is among the injured.

The 3.50pm Eaglehawk to Southern Cross train will originate from Castlemaine with customers from preceding stations to travel per road coach.

UPDATE 3.10pm: Police will address media from the scene shortly. We will livestream the conference here via our Facebook page.

The 3.14pm Southern Cross - Echuca train will terminate at Castlemaine and continue as coaches to Echuca.

UPDATE 3.05pm: V/Line has released a statement saying the train involved was the 12.14pm Southern Cross Station to Epsom service, with approximately 80 passengers, a conductor and driver on board.

All services on the Bendigo line have been suspended until further notice. 

For information about service changes customers can visit www.vline.com.au or call 1800 800 007.

Video: Matt Downes

UPDATE 3pm: Here’s the latest on the V/Line services impacted:

  • 4.24pm Southern Cross to Epsom train has been replaced by road coaches
  • 2.28pm Epsom to Southern Cross V/Line train has been replaced by coaches
  • 2.14pm Southern Cross to Epsom train will terminate at Castlemaine and continue as coaches
  • 12.43pm Swan Hill-SCS train will terminate at Bendigo and continue as coaches to SCS

Bendigo Advertiser reader Matt Downes captured this video of the scene:

UPDATE 2.52pm: Ambulance Victoria officers are treating eight patients.

Six are still being assessed and two are in a stable condition with minor injuries.

A bus has been organised to convey passengers.

EARLIER: A Bendigo train has struck an abandoned car near Kangaroo Flat and derailed.

The crash happened near Phillis Street in Big Hill about 2pm.

Bendigo Fire Brigade senior station officer John Lane said the vehicle was trying to cross the train line but the driver was out of the car when the crash occurred. 

All emergency services are on scene.

Two people are being assessed for minor injuries, a spokesperson for Ambulance Victoria said.

The 2.28pm Epsom to Southern Cross V/Line train has been replaced by coaches.

The 12.43pm Swan Hill-SCS train will terminate at Bendigo and continue as coaches to SCS.

The 2.14pm Southern Cross to Epsom train will terminate at Castlemaine and continue as coaches.

Emergency services are also responding to a separate crash at the intersection of McIvor Road and Sternberg Street.

More to come.