11 Nov – Vandals have broken into a railway station in Melbourne’s north-east, started a train and then derailed it, “destroying everything in its path” after seemingly obtaining a key on the black market.
Victoria Police believe the offenders broke into the train at the Hurstbridge Railway Station about 1:50am.
They managed to start the train and drive it forward, before running into carriages, fencing and security boxes.
Metro Trains chief executive Andrew Lezala said the incident had caused about $3 million in damage and a key would have been needed to start the train.
“Somebody has gained access to one of our trains and managed to motor it up,” he said.
“The train has been derailed by the derailing device, which is there to stop trains getting onto the main line when they shouldn’t be there.
“So it’s done its job, but [the act has] caused extensive damage.”
Keys for Metro trains are not kept in the carriage but are looked after by drivers and key staff.
The train was an X-Trapolis model, which operates on a universal key system – meaning any train of that model can be started with the same key.
Mr Lezala said they were “occasionally stolen” and those involved may have obtained one through the black market.
“This is a severe act of vandalism,” he said.
“I am very concerned that somebody has been able to do this and we will work with the police to apprehend these people, and I hope they get very severely dealt with.
“This is a situation that we just cannot tolerate.”
Sergeant Mark Chetcuti from Victoria Police said police were investigating the circumstances around the incident.
“They’ve used a rock to force the lever and put the train in motion, causing that to drive for 40 to 50 metres and basically just destroying everything in its path,” he said.
A security guard and a cleaner were at the station at the time, but no one was injured.
“There was a cleaner and a night watchman who obviously saw the activities unfold, and just had to move away and put themselves in a safe position, there was not too much they could do,” Sergeant Chetcuti said.
“They got onto triple-0 pretty quick and the response was pretty prompt.”
Victoria Police’s transit criminal investigation unit will take over the investigation.
Hurstbridge services to be disrupted for days
Police are have urged any witnesses to come forward, and are looking at CCTV.
Services on the Hurstbridge line between Hurstbridge and Diamond Creek have been suspended while the clean up continues.
Earlier Leah Waymark from Metro said buses were replacing trains on the affected part of the line and major delays could be expected.
“It’s going to take us a long time to recover this, we’re not sure exactly how long as we’re still inspecting the extent of the damage here,” she said.
“My read is that it’s going to take us days, certainly not two weeks at this stage, but it will take us days, and in the meantime we’ll be running a full service for our Metro customers, albeit buses replacing trains between those three stations.”
She said a crane would be needed to repair the damage.
“There’s quite extensive works, there’s damage to the overhead, there’s damage to the trains – three of the four cars are fully off the tracks here, so the extent of the damage is quite extreme,” she said.