An XPT train derailed in Wallan North, 45km north of Melbourne, Victoria. Australian Rail Track. Picture: Supplied by Australian Rail Track Corporation
An XPT train derailed in Wallan North, 45km north of Melbourne, Victoria. Australian Rail Track. Picture: Supplied by Australian Rail Track Corporation

Train driver’s eerie email before death

The driver of the Sydney-to-Melbourne XPT train which derailed last Thursday night eerily predicted that something bad was going to happen.

Driver John Kennedy emailed his friend laying out his concerns about the badly maintained railway and trains on February 3.

Exactly two weeks later, on February 17, Mr Kennedy and his pilot died tragically after their train, carrying 153 passengers, derailed at Wallan north of Melbourne.

An XPT train derailed in Wallan North, 45km north of Melbourne, Victoria. Australian Rail Track. Picture: Supplied by Australian Rail Track Corporation
An XPT train derailed in Wallan North, 45km north of Melbourne, Victoria. Australian Rail Track. Picture: Supplied by Australian Rail Track Corporation

Mr Kennedy's email to his friend Clive Williams explained how the last six times he had driven a train along that line there had been some kind of complication, including a train being down to one engine and another having no speedometer.

Mr Kennedy, 54, from Canberra, was worried about the condition of the track, signals system and ongoing maintenance problems with the 1980s XPTs.

" … my last six Melbourne return trips have been very late or cancelled mainly due to train fault issues, 3 of the six runs I was down to one engine, on another trip I had no speedo and the only trip without a train fault was disrupted by the big derailment last week," Mr Kennedy's email read.

A sling on a crane is used to move part of the XPT train that derailed. Picture: Ellen Smith/AAP Image
A sling on a crane is used to move part of the XPT train that derailed. Picture: Ellen Smith/AAP Image

Mr Williams said he would never usually share the contents of a private email, but believes these were exceptional circumstances.

"John said he half expected to be derailed the first few times he went to Melbourne because of the violent sideways movement on some sections of the track." Mr Williams told The Sydney Morning Herald.

"But he assumed the speed limit had been set by engineers who had calculated the safe speed for trains using those sections."

The derailment led to the deaths of two people. Picture: The Australian Rail Track Corporation
The derailment led to the deaths of two people. Picture: The Australian Rail Track Corporation

Mr Williams sent a text message to Mr Kennedy to check he was all right after hearing of the derailment.

"My subsequent reaction was one of anger that federal and state government mismanagement had allowed this to happen," Mr Williams said.

An investigation is being launched into the train derailment which killed two people.

Investigators will especially be looking at whether speed was a factor in the accident.

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