Train hits car abandoned on train tracks in Wendouree

SUMMARY:

A Gregory Street resident says she feared for her children’s lives after a passenger train ploughed into a stolen car abandoned on the Ballarat line yesterday morning.

The Isuzu utility had been stolen from west Ballarat around 5.30am on Thursday morning, before being left on the tracks about an hour later.

A westbound passenger service leaving Ballarat hit the vehicle as it headed through the Creswick Road crossing. It was not carrying passengers, and the driver and one other person on the service were shaken but uninjured.

The resident, who asked not to be named, said she did not know the train had struck the abandoned vehicle until her children called out, “There’s been a train crash!”

“That’s when I looked out of the window and saw smoke coming out of the ute and I realised what had happened,” the resident said.

“I really hope they get whoever is responsible. That’s obviously a tradesperson’s ute. The police did say that the car hadn’t been dumped long before the train hit it.

“I said to the policeman the kids’ rooms are out the back there, so if that had been a high-impact accident, that car could have gone anywhere and the train could have come off the tracks – anything.”

Acting Inspector Tony Coxall of Ballarat West police said leaving the vehicle on the line was a senseless act that endangered lives.

“It’s a criminal act; it’s an act of stupidity. At this stage we are treating it as intentional that the car was left there,” Coxall said.

“The propensity for people to be placed in danger is enormous. We’d like to appeal for people to give any information… anyone who had any involvement on the road or in the area, we’d really appeal for information.”

UPDATE, 10AM: A Gregory Street resident whose home is directly behind the accident says she feared for her children’s safety following the accident.

The resident, who asked not to be named, said she did not know the train had struck the abandoned vehicle until her children called out “there’s been a train crash!”

“That’s when I looked out of the window and saw smoke coming out of the ute and I realised what had happened,” the resident said.

“I really hope they get whoever is responsible. That’s obviously a tradesperson’s ute. The police did say that the car hadn’t been dumped long before the train hit it.

Police blocking off Burnbank Street. Photo: Caleb Cluff.

Police blocking off Burnbank Street. Photo: Caleb Cluff.

“I said to the policeman the kids’ rooms are out the back there, so if that had been a high-impact accident, that car could have gone anywhere and the train could have come off the tracks – anything.”

“There is stuff that goes on around here all the time. It’s a bit of a hotspot I would say. There were police cars the other night in (Lexton) Street here. Five days before that you had an undercover cop sitting here, and they were waiting for a car that must have been causing trouble around town, because it stopped here and I thought it was going to lock its wheels up, but they must have noticed the police car and thought, ‘what are we going to do?’, and they’ve taken off with cops chasing them.

“When you see a police car around here, it’s like ‘whatever’.”

Ballarat Police Sergeant Neville Leishman, attending the crash site, said the incident was a very serious one and charges such as conduct endangering life would likely be considered.

UPDATE, 9AM: The Burnbank Street crossing is now open to road traffic.

However, there will be continuing V/Line delays.

See all the V/Line updates here.

UPDATE, 8.30AM: Local resident Janine Ferris, of Gregory Street, said she heard a loud bang around 6.30am.

She assumed it was trackworks but came out of her house when she saw the lights of the train.

“It was only when I got up and walked down the hallway I saw the lights of the train,” she said.

Another Gregory Street resident, Rob, said he heard a similar loud noise at the time.

Ms Lewis said it was the second time a train had struck something near the Gregory Street crossing.

At Christmas time a train struck a wheelie bin, she said.

Another Gregory Street resident, named Rob, said police had attended the site last week when another vehicle was dumped in the same area.

He said a Toyota RAV4 was dumped where trackworks are taking place.

Two young men were said to have been spotted at the scene last week although it is not believed any arrests were made.

There was no crash in that instance.

EARLIER: A train has crashed into an abandoned car left on the train tracks in Wendouree this morning.

The train, which crashed into the car between the Creswick Road and Burnbank Street crossings, was not carrying any passengers and was travelling west to Wendouree for its first stop.

The train driver was not injured and the train did not derail.

The crash occurred about 6.30am.

The train line has been thrown into chaos between Ballarat and Wendouree this morning, while Burnbank Street is also blocked to road traffic.

Crime scene investigators are en route to the area.

Police have advised people to avoid the area as the scene will remain closed for some time.

Full V/Line service announcements can be found here.