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Last Updated: Wednesday, 17 November, 2004, 07:28 GMT
Australia train broke speed limit
Train crash near Bundaberg
Seven out of nine carriages came off the rails
A train that crashed in Australia on Tuesday was travelling at almost twice the speed limit when the accident happened, its operator and police said.

The Tilt Train came off the tracks near Bundaberg in Queensland, injuring more than 120 people, some seriously.

A joint statement from operator Queensland Rail and police said the train's black box showed it was travelling at 112km/h (70mph).

The speed limit for the section of track was 60km/h.

The statement said authorities were still investigating to see if any other factors had contributed to the derailment.
The next thing I know, I've gone through the front door and there's no more train
Passenger Frank Houdini

"There are still many other aspects in terms of this incident which require examination and investigation," the statement said.

Queensland Rail chief executive Bob Scheuber said it is not clear if speed alone caused the crash.

"I can't be absolutely sure as to whether speed alone has caused that. I'm not discounting that it could be speed alone, I just don't at this stage know," he said.

Australia's Tilt Trains can reach speeds of up to 160km/h (100mph). Although the speed limit on the curved section of track where the crash occurred is 60km/h, the limit on the preceding section of track is 150km/h.

'Incredible' escape

The train was travelling on a night journey from Brisbane to the tourist resort of Cairns.

Australian officials said it was a miracle nobody died in the spectacular crash, which saw seven carriages derailed.

"To get away with the small number of (serious) injuries we have, I think is incredible," Dr John Scott of Queensland's state health department told Australian television.

Queensland state Premier Peter Beattie, who visited the scene of the accident, agreed.

"Thank God no one was killed," he said. "When you look at the site it is in fact a miracle that no one was."

One official described the train as "a twisted wreck," adding that it had "ploughed through the dirt like a bulldozer".

Another said: "There are carriages on their side, bent and twisted and there are [wheels] all over the place".

It took several hours to free some victims, who suffered rib injuries, spinal injuries, abrasions and abdominal injuries.

Thirty-five people were treated for major injuries, with two listed as in serious condition, said Dr Scott.

Passenger Frank Houdini said he was woken by the train leaving the tracks.

"The next thing I know, I've gone through the front door and there's no more train," he told national radio.

Train crashes in north Australia
16 Nov 04 |  Asia-Pacific
Country profile: Australia
09 Oct 04 |  Country profiles

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