A semi-trailer narrowly avoided plunging off a bridge onto the Sydney-Melbourne railway line at Wallendbeen last Thursday, 8 September. The vehicle was on the Olympic Highway bound for Melbourne when it veered out of control as it was crossing the bridge in heavy rain.
The trailer slammed into the corrugated steel safety barrier on the bridge, tearing the barrier from its moorings and sending a large amount of debris onto the railway.
The barrier was left hanging in mid-air above the railway.
The fact that it did not give way under impact could well have prevented the trailer from plunging over the side and dragging the cabin with it onto the railway line below. The vehicle contnued a further 150 metres before coming to rest in a ditch, partially rolling to the left with its rear wheels in the air.
The crash occuured in the 60kmh zone, near the turn-off into Silo Road.
The bridge is seriously damaged, and will have only one lane open for the foreseeable future, with a 20km speed limit and mobile traffic lights in operation.
Vehicles over 4 metres wide are being diverted via Murrumburrah and Wombat.
NSW Trainlink XPT passenger services were immediately cancelled. Services from Sydney to Melbourne resumed on Friday evening, and Mellbourne to Sydney services resumed on Saturday morning.
The Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) reported that up and down main lines were closed overnight. Engineering Services company UGL Limited, which manages the bridge, inspected and certified the bridge was safe for rail traffic on Friday morning.
Clean up of debris was carried out and the track was re-opened for freight trains at noon on Friday.
Some of the trailer’s contents were spilled.
Over a distance 100 metres, the side of the road was covered in a layer a few centimetres thick of granular white powder, believed to be plastic powder used in the manufacture of spa pools in Melbourne.
Ambulance, police, and Wallendbeen Rural Fire Services were called to the scene and police kept vigil until concrete road barriers and traffic control measuers could be put in place.