The accident occurred at about 08:25 on Thursday Decmber 2 when a commuter train collided with the rear of the Indian Pacific tourist train at Glenbrook at the foot of the Blue Mountains. The transcontinetal Perth - Sydney Indian Pacific is thought to have been stationary or moving very slowly at the time. The bi-level City Rail train, forming the 06:39 service from Lithgow was crowded with commuters heading for Sydney.
Teams of rescue personnel worked throughout the day to retrieve bodies that were trapped in the lead car of commuter train. The last car of the Indian Pacific, a motor car transporter sliced through the aluminium bodied carriage. According to one rescue worker, 6 metres of the carriage had been compressed into the space of just 1 metre. All the dead had been travelling in this carriage.
One hundred and fifty nine people were travelling in the Indian Pacific. Estimates of the numbers in the commuter train have varied, but there may have been as many as 550. Police have appealed for any passengers who left the scene, before giving their details to the police to contact them in order that they may be included in their records. The number to call is 4751 0299.
The police have set-up a special team to investigate the accident. This investigation is codenamed Operation Radford. A judicial inquiry, as well as a coroner's inquiry is to be launched into the disaster. A focus of investigations is likely to be the possibility of signal failure. It is believed that the Indian Pacific train had halted at a red signal and was proceeding, according to the rules at low speed. Just moments before the impact, passengers on the express had listened to an announcement over the trains PA system that their train would be delayed due to a signal failure.
The Indian Pacific was involved in another collision earlier this year at Zanthus in Western Australia. Forty five people were injured when it collided with the rear of a freight train.
Thursday's accident is the worst rail accident in Australia since 1977 when 83 people were killed in an accident at Granville in Sydney. In this incident, another commuter train from the Blue Mountains became derailed and crashed into the support pylons of a bridge bringing it down on top of the train.
This file last updated: Saturday, 04-Dec-1999 06:34:56 EST
Copyright © David Fry 1999