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WORK is set to start to build a rail line around the train crash site near Colac as investigations continue into the shocking accident.
The government has revealed that the level crossing where the truck and train crashed was months away from having boom gates and warning signals installed, despite being “fast-tracked” 17 months ago.
The Warrnambool railway line has been suspended as the investigation into the smash continues.
A VLine spokeswoman said the recovery process was now underway and the track was expected to be restored early next week.
“Temporary track will be laid and two heavy cranes will lift the 125-tonne locomotive and carriages o nto the temporary track to remove them from the site,” she said.
“Following this, V/Line’s Asset Management team will work to repair the tracks.”
Authorities, including an Australian rail safety investigator, were at the scene on Thursday.
All services on the line have been suspended until further notice.
The level crossing in Pirron Yallock, west of Colac, was named in a February 2015 media release as one of three country crossings fast-tracked for upgrades.
Eighteen people were taken to hospital after the V/Line passenger train collided with a truck on Wednesday night.
Detailed design and planning has been completed for the gates and electrical and signalling works.
“The installation of the boom gates and the signals are on track to be completed at the end of this year,” Public Transport Minister Jacinta Allan said.
Four carriages and the locomotive of the Warrnambool bound V/Line train, which was carrying 99 passengers and left Southern Cross Station at 1.21pm, derailed in the smash.
The truck driver, a 41-year-old man from Ballarat, was flown to Royal Melbourne Hospital where he is in a serious but not life-threatening condition.
Eighteen people, including a train conductor, were taken to numerous regional hospitals around the area with cuts, bruises and broken bones.
The level crossing is categorised as a “passive crossing”, with no boom gates or flashing lights.
Police are yet to determine the cause of the crash.
Buses will replace trains on the line until further notice.
In March local opposition MP Richard Riordan asked in parliament why it had been 12 months since the government promised to fast-track the work and nothing had been done.
“Given the increasingly heavy truck load on our roads, including trucks used in our booming dairy industry and grain and stock trucks, it is also crucial to those travelling on trains that they can have confidence in the safety of the train line they are travelling on,” Mr Riordan said in March.
This article first appeared on www.geelongadvertiser.com.au
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