Tren que viaja a ocho veces el límite de velocidad antes de descarrilarse, matando a dos, en Victoria - informe

Un tren que descarriló en Victoria, matando a dos personas e hiriendo gravemente a ocho más, viajaba a más de ocho veces el límite de velocidad a través de una sección desviada de la vía, un informe provisional ha encontrado.

The Sydney to Melbourne XPT service derailed near Wallan, about 60km north of Melbourne, en 20 febrero, 2020. En el momento, the Rail, Tram and Bus Union raised concerns about the condition of that section of the track, which was undergoing maintenance, saying drivers for the Victorian regional train service, VLine, were refusing to drive on it.

The crash is being investigated by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau. An interim report, released on Thursday, found the train entered a rail loop at Wallan travelling at almost 130km/h despite a 15km/h speed limit in place through a rerouted section of track.

Train driver John Kennedy, 54, an experienced driver from the ACT, was killed in the crash. The train pilot, Victorian man Sam Meintanis, 49, also died.

Meintanis had boarded the train shortly before the derailment to help Kennedy navigate a 24km section of track where signalling equipment had been damaged in a fire 17 days earlier.

One day before the derailment, the Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) had manually reconfigured the track through Wallan to divert trains through a loop. The speed limit was reduced from the usual 130km/h track limit to 15km/h into the loop and 35km/h out of the loop.

Analysis from the train’s data recorder showed the train entered the loop at the higher track speed, the interim report said. The driver had braked between 50 y 150 metres beforehand.

“This slowed the train a small amount before it entered the turnout travelling at a speed probably between 114 and 127km/h,"Dijo el informe.

“The train was not able to negotiate the turnout to the crossing loop track at this speed and derailed.”

Prior to the derailment the train had been delayed at Kilmore East, waiting for a VLine train to pass. The ARTC network controller told the driver “you’re going via the loop there at Wallan”. The network controller spoke to the driver again at 7.30pm, while the train was still waiting at Kilmore East, but the report noted there was “no communication between the controller and driver regarding the maximum speed of 15km/h for entering the crossing loop”.

The lower speed limit had been stated in a notice issued by ARTC on 19 febrero.

Había 155 passengers on board. Kennedy and Meintanis were among nine crew.

Eight passengers suffered serious injuries in the crash and 53 passengers and five crew received minor injuries.

A full report on the derailment is not expected until early 2022, with a number of issues including survivability and crashworthiness standards still being investigated.

“It is important not to draw conclusions from the factual information detailed in this report as there remains a significant body of further analysis work prior to concluding this investigation,” the ATSB chief commissioner, Greg Hood, dicho.

The crash prompted a series of safety actions taken by the ARTC. It is also working on a new risk assessment tool for “abnormal circumstances”.

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