Search for missing after horror train crash kills two
Police are still looking to account for about 20 people who were onboard the Sydney to Melbourne train that derailed at Wallan last night, killing the driver and the XPT train's pilot.
Passengers are urged to contact Crimestoppers to confirm they are safe.
The train driver, a 54-year-old man from the ACT and the train's pilot, a 49-year-old Castlemaine woman, are dead and dozens of passengers injured after the train derailment.
The track is unlikely to open for another four to five days as investigators assess the scene.
Victoria Police Acting Inspector Peter Fusinato said the two deaths were tragic and it was a miracle that more people weren't hurt.
"As a first responder who turned up it would have looked like a horrific scene," he said.
"The outcome was probably far greater than you would have anticipated.
"I'm very surprised there weren't more serious injuries."
Act Insp Fusinato said the engine of the train has tipped on to its side while the carriage behind it had nearly fallen all the way over.
"We've done a through search of the train and no one was ejected," he said.
Transit detectives were last night at the scene as they investigated the caused of the derailment with railway authorities.
Passengers have said the driver told them over the public address system he would try to make up time before the train carrying 160 people and five crew flew off the tracks near Wallan about 7.45pm.
Passenger Joan Marks told the Herald Sun the train had been running behind schedule, with several delays.
"We stopped for a bit then he really took off,'' she said.
Passengers described being thrown violently around inside the train as the diesel locomotive and at least four carriages careered off the tracks.
Shocked and bruised passengers climbed out of the wrecked train onto the tracks, while a triage centre was set up at a nearby petrol station and ambulances began ferrying the injured to hospital.
Maintenance had been done on the track in recent days, and all trains were travelling through the Wallan loop.
Ambulance Victoria confirmed one of the injured had been flown to a Melbourne hospital and another four people were being taken to Northern Health hospital at Epping, where they were in a stable condition.
"A number of others will be taken to hospital with minor injuries," Ambulance Victoria said.
The train is believed to have left Sydney's Central Station at 7.40am and was running up to two hours late at the time the accident happened.
It had been due to arrive into Southern Cross Station at 6.30pm. Uninjured passengers began arriving into the station on buses about 10.30pm.
The Australian Transport Safety Bureau launched an investigation and investigators were due at the site today.
The track is operated by the Federal Government-owned Australian Rail Track Corporation, and Deputy Prime Minister and Infrastructure Minister Michael McCormack was being briefed on the incident on Thursday night.
One passenger described items flying through the air as the train derailed, and "suddenly slid into a fast stop".
Dr Scott Rickard said the "carriage (was) at an angle" and "tray tables went flying".
"Fortunately only a few ppl (sic) injured in our carriage," she said on Twitter.
"Stuff flew everywhere. Carriages crumpled at edges. We walked out. Most people able to walk out
"We're in a bit of shock, but OK. Drinking cuppas now," she added.
The aerodynamic Express Passenger Train (XPT) travels between Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Dubbo, Grafton and Casino, and travels at a top speed of about 160kmh. Fire crews and ambulances were still at the scene on Thursday as emergency services worked to clear heavy wreckage around the tracks.
Ms Marks, 74, said the derailment "felt like we just went flying". She and twin sister Ivy Bell, from Leeton in NSW, got on in Wagga and were headed to Melbourne to visit family. She said the journey didn't get off to the best start and was running behind schedule.
"It wasn't a real good ride when we got on," she told the Herald Sun at the scene.
"Then we left Seymour, we stopped for a bit then he really took off." She said there had been a sudden jolt.
"Just like that it was off the rails, there were cases everywhere, I've never seen anything like it before'" she said.
"I'm not sure if he was making up time because he was running late but it came off the rails all of a sudden.
"We were an hour and a half late as it was. We had to stop just outside Seymour because of the signals. He (the driver) did say over the speaker he was going to try to make up time."
In December, Infrastructure Australia ruled that the business case for an upgrade of the Melbourne-Albury North East Rail Line should not be included on its priority list.
One man aged in his 70s said staff on the train had told passengers during a delay that there were ongoing problems with the track and asked those on board to lodge complaints.
He said "heads should roll" over the derailment, adding: "I just hope someone gets a kick in the pants over this, because it has not just happened, it's been ongoing."
Canberra man James Ashburner, 69, was sitting by the window in the first passenger carriage when the train derailed.
He said it had been travelling "at 100-odd km/h and then things went strange".
"There was a lot of noise and suddenly there was dust, the train was swaying a lot," he said.
"I didn't realise that we had derailed until we came to a stop.
"Initially we were all just stunned, people went flying, stuff went flying. A couple of people had been standing in the aisle and they really went flying.
"For some minutes we were just milling about seeing who needed assistance and what sort of assistance."
Mr Ashburner said that the woman seated in front of him suffered a blow to the back of her head and was bleeding profusely just behind the ear.
"It was just oozy blood, she had a serious cut," he said.
One passenger has described items flying everywhere as the train derailed, and "suddenly slid into a fast stop".
Passengers who were on the train started arrive at Southern Cross station just after 10:30pm.
Many expressed their relief with some met by emergency services coming off the replacement coaches.
Melbourne man, Toby told the Herald Sun that the accident was "very scary".
"Basically we came off the side of the tracks," Toby said.
"I was fine luckily I didn't get hit and everyone on my carriage was okay."
A couple from Burwood also spoke of the crash saying they're just "relieved" to be home
"We just felt the train skid along and go sideways and we went into trees," they told the Herald Sun.
"The SES, police and ambos were fantastic,
"But everyone was good, everyone was positive and calm, there was no panic,
"We are just happy to be breathing."
The Public Transport Users Association's Daniel Bowen described the crash as an "awful thing".
"Our thoughts are with those affected by this," he said.
"There will be an investigation in due course into the cause.
"Thankfully serious accidents on the rail network are very rare, but that makes it even more important to investigate the cause."