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THE owner of a truck that crashed into The Ghan passenger train last year has been hit with a demand for more than $18 million.
Katherine-based Downes Graderways - the owner and operator of the road train that derailed the train in December - has been given a letter from Great Southern Railways demanding $18,212,556.
Defence lawyer Peter Maley yesterday told Darwin Magistrates Court that Great Southern Railway was claiming the money to cover the damage to locomotives and carriages - and its loss "in reputation".
He said the $18million letter had been sent to the company and driver of the road train, 57-year-old Thomas John Bohning, in June.
The road train hit The Ghan at a Ban Ban Springs level crossing, 130km south of Darwin, on December 12.
The impact split the B-Double in two, leaving a tangled mess of steel as both locomotives and 10 wagons were derailed.
Earlier this year Great Southern Railway chief Tony Braxton-Smith said the damage would take months to repair at a cost of about $5mil.
Mr Maley told the court the $18million case had become "very complicated".
"There are going to be some ongoing rather large pieces of litigation between the respective insurance companies," he said.
He made the comments in defending charges against Downes.
One of the road train's three trailers was unregistered and uninsured at the time of the crash.
The company pleaded guilty and Mr Maley asked the court to take the "significant consequences" Downes Graderways was facing into account.
Mr Bradley said an $18million letter had nothing to do with the failure to register a vehicle.
"You are trying to make me feel sympathetic ... but it is not working," he said.
He convicted and fined the company $1000.
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