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A possibly fatal rail accident was avoided last month when an out-of control Ballarat train that would have been full of supporters coming home from the football ploughed into level crossing gates at twice the speed limit.
A leaked V/Line incident report alleges a Wendouree-bound train was travelling at 97km/h through a 40km/h zone when it failed to stop at Ballarat station about 11.30pm on Saturday, May 30.
The V/Locity train after it came to a halt.CREDIT:NINE NEWS
That service is normally full of people returning from AFL games and experts say that if not for coronavirus restrictions it would probably have derailed with potentially fatal results.
The V/Locity train, which was only carrying two passengers that night, careered into level crossing gates at Lydiard Street, injuring the driver, the conductor and one of the passengers.
The train probably sped through up to three level crossings and a crossover – all 40km/h areas – putting it dangerously at risk of crashing into another train, cars or pedestrians, rail insiders said.
The incident came just three months after an XPT train derailed at Wallan, north of Melbourne, killing the train's driver and the co-pilot. That train was travelling about 100km/h when it entered a passing loop with a 15km/h speed limit on February 20.
One of the damaged crossing gates.CREDIT:NINE NEWS
The Ballarat incident, which is now being investigated by three separate agencies, resulted in one passenger, a man in his 40s, being taken to Ballarat Base Hospital with a head injury, neck and back soreness and cuts and abrasions.
The driver had lacerations to the face and the conductor had minor injuries to the leg, back and shoulder.
While the exact reason for the incident is not yet known, suspected causes are a transmission failure that would have impeded the train's braking system, coupled with oil on the tracks believed to have leaked out of the faulty transmission as the train travelled down a steep slope.
These factors combined mean the train may as well have been "travelling on skates on ice", insiders said, and the driver's competency and vast experience helped to avoid a worse outcome.
This article first appeared on www.theage.com.au
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