Train drivers offered counselling after head-on collision

UPDATE: A Gowrie Junction man cheated death by mere moments after he fell asleep while driving and came to a stop on a western Darling Downs rail line.

Authorities are investigating how the 39-year-old's car came to be embedded on the fenced-off rail line between Macalister and Warra early Friday morning.

Dalby police report the man had been travelling along the Warrego Hwy when his car veered off the road, through a fence and onto the Queensland Rail line and into the path of an oncoming coal train about 12.45am.

The fully-loaded Aurizon train, pulling about 10,500 tonnes, couldn't stop despite the best efforts of the two drivers who have since been offered counselling.

The view from atop the train engine of the mangled Toyota Camry sedan after it was hit by a train.
The view from atop the train engine of the mangled Toyota Camry sedan after it was hit by a train. Contributed

Aurizon's head of safety Neil Backer said the incident was distressing for the drivers who had no way of knowing if someone had been inside the wrecked Toyota Camry sedan.

"Our crew could carry the memory of this incident with them for the rest of their lives," Mr Backer said.

"These are hard-working people going about their job like everyone else and no-one deserves this sort of experience.

"Our drivers can't swerve, they can't dodge, they can only apply the emergency brake and hope to stop in time."

A Toowoomba man cheated death mere moments before a train slammed into his car which had been on the rail lines at Warra.
A Toowoomba man cheated death mere moments before a train slammed into his car which had been on the rail lines at Warra. Contributed

The train pushed the wreck about 300m down the rail line and it took about 30 minutes to separate the sedan from the front of the engine.

It can take up to 2km for a heavy haulage train to stop once the emergency brake is applied.

Dalby police said investigations were continuing into the incident but fatigue was believed to be a major factor in how the car came to stop on the tracks.

The two train drivers had sounded the horn and applied the emergency brake but were unable to stop in time.

The moment of impact.
The moment of impact. Contributed

"We're continually pleading with the community to take absolute care near the rail corridor," Mr Backer said.

"The images of this collision clearly show the incredible force of a train hitting a car. This driver has narrowly escaped with his life."

While this harrowing incident was not at a level crossing, Queensland Rail has previously advised motorists that ignoring level crossing warnings and instructions could mean fines of up to $353 and the loss of three demerit points.

Pedestrians can be fined $235.

Head-on collision between a loaded coal train and a sedan between Warra and Macalister Friday morning.
Head-on collision between a loaded coal train and a sedan between Warra and Macalister Friday morning. Contributed

EARLIER: A DARLING Downs man has narrowly avoided death after his car was slammed into head-on by a fully loaded coal train just after midnight.

The Gowrie Junction man, 39, had been travelling west on the Warrego Hwy about midnight when fell asleep while driving and drifted off the road, smashed through a fence and became wedged on a train track on the rail reserve.

Waking up, the man managed to free himself from the Toyota Camry sedan and tried to raise the alarm.

Unable to do so, the man watched on as a fully loaded 41-carriage coal train barrelled down the tracks and collided with his vehicle about 7km east of Warra about 12.45am.

When loaded, each coal carriage can weigh about 16 tonnes.

The scene of the crash near Warra. Photo 7 Local News
The scene of the crash near Warra. Photo 7 Local News

Police said the train pushed the car about 300m up the track from the collision point due to the speed of the train and the weight behind.

It took more than half-an-hour to separate the car from the train, police said.

Investigations are continuing with fatigue believed to be major contributing factor in the incident.

Queensland Rail has been advised of the incident and are investigating.


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