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‘Strange grinding sound’: Passenger describes horror moment when train derailed at Wallan

Image: James Ashburner

A passenger who was aboard the Sydney to Melbourne XPT train when it derailed near Wallan last night has described the scene and praised the actions of emergency service workers.

James Ashburner boarded the train in Canberra and was on his way to Melbourne to visit family when the tram abruptly came off the track, killing two people.

Mr Ashburner, who catches the XPT train once or twice a year, said nothing was out of the ordinary prior to the accident, but the departure of the train had been delayed.

“Suddenly there was a strange grinding sound and bumping,” he told 3AW’s Neil Mitchell.

“The carriage swayed, I was thrown about in my seat and stuff went flying, and there was a bit of yelling.”

Mr Ashburner said when the accident occurred the train was travelling at full speed, which it had not been doing for most of the trip.

“You could say that’s unusual in that so much of the time we’d been hanging about waiting or travelling slowly,” he said.

Mr Ashburner, who was in the first passenger carriage on the train, praised emergency services for their calm management of the disaster.

“The train was a mess,” he said.

“Carriages at all matter of odd angles and rather confused people standing on the tracks.

“The first two police cars arrived and immediately things started to be under control.”

Mr Ashburner was not injured in the derailment.

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Two dead after Sydney to Melbourne passenger train derails near Wallan