Australian passenger train derails after hitting abandoned vehicle

SYDNEY, Oct 20 (Reuters) – An early morning commuter train was partially derailed after hitting an abandoned van on the tracks near Sydney on Wednesday, trapping the driver and causing other minor injuries, authorities said.

The four-car train hit the vehicle in Wollongong, about 90km (56 miles) south of Sydney at 4.15am local time, flipping the front carriage on its side and tipping the second carriage, services said emergency.

The train driver was freed by firefighters and taken to hospital along with a guard and two of the train’s nine passengers.

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Police set up a crime scene after a person was reported running away from the scene. It was unclear how long the van had been parked on the tracks.

A derailed passenger train is seen after hitting a car on a level crossing in Kembla Grange, Australia, October 20, 2021. AAP image/Dean Lewins via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS – THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY . NO RESALE. NO ARCHIVES. AUSTRALIA OUT. NEW ZEALAND OUT

“I was talking to some of the rail workers there and when they see a train in that position they immediately expect fatalities, so I think it’s very lucky no one was hurt,” he told reporters. NSW Police Superintendent Craig Ireland.

Passenger numbers on trains to and around Sydney are still below pre-pandemic levels as the country’s most populous city reopens.

The incident adds to problems for commuters around Sydney where train drivers had already planned a strike over privatization plans on Wednesday which was to close 70% of trains.

“It will be a massive recovery operation and will also cause disruption to public transport to get this back on track,” Ireland said.

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Reporting by Byron Kaye; edited by Richard Pullin

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Jose P. Rogers