Police have praised the driver of a train which crashed into a stolen 4WD left abandoned on tracks in Melbourne’s north, saying quick thinking saved lives.
Some 170 passengers escaped without injury after their V/Line service crashed into the 4WD at Jacana on Monday evening.
Emergency services used ladders to help passengers off the Albury-bound train.
The evacuation took two hours, with passengers having to cross other train tracks before they could board coaches to finish their journey.
No one was in the 4WD which was pushed 400 metres by the train.
It has been reported two men were seen fleeing the car before the smash.
Police praised the train driver for his potentially life-saving actions.
“The V/Line driver’s done a great job putting his brakes on straight away,” Sergeant Richard Eldridge told reporters at the scene.
“The train slowed down as best it could … not putting too much of a shock on passengers.”
A V/Line spokesman echoed Sgt Eldridge’s praise.
“The train driver’s actions averted a more serious incident,” he said on Tuesday.
“It just serves as a reminder though of the dangers of rail tracks – it’s not worth taking the risk of being reckless.”
The train will be inspected on Tuesday to determine the extent of the damage.
The crash disrupted services on the Seymour line overnight and into Tuesday morning.
Services are operating using replacement buses, with trains expected to resume running as normal from midday on Tuesday.
The 4WD’s owner earlier on Monday had used Facebook to appeal for help finding his vehicle after it had been stolen from Craigieburn.
Carpenter Chris Zammit had issued a $5000 reward for his Nissan which contained his work tools.
But he later posted: “Found it … well what’s left. Hit by a train.”