1952 Moriac crash

On 13 April 1952 one passenger was killed and seven were seriously injured when two passenger trains collided head on at Moriac.

From The Argus Monday 14 April 1952:


Two passenger trains crashed head-on at Moriac on Saturday night. A woman was killed and four other people were injured.

The 3.25 p.m. Port Fairy Melbourne train struck the 5.50 p.m. Melbourne-Warrnambool at Moriac station, 15 miles from Geelong, at 7.45 p.m. They carried about 150 passengers.

People five miles away heard the crash and saw steam clouds rising 50ft.

The woman killed and the injured were all on the Melbourne-bound train, which was the worse damaged.

Axes in rescue

Rescuers worked with axes for an hour to cut their way into a wrecked compartment where victims were believed trapped.

The victims were:


MRS. JOSIE TRAYNOR, 39, of St. Helen's rd., Hawthorn East.


MRS. HANNAH RAE, 54, of Duke st. Kew. fractures of pelvis and arm, possible rib fractures, and shock. In Geelong Hospital (critical).

DONALD HAYDON, 26, of Haynes st., Terang, fractured skull (admitted).

WALTER BRAY, 26, of Raven st., Geelong West, train fireman, burns and shock (admitted).

ALBERT QUINLIVEN, 60, of Petrie st., West Geelong, train driver, lacerated cheek and burns to hands (allowed to go home).

Donald Haydon was on his way to Melbourne to join the R.A.A.F. at the time of the crash.

The Warrnambool-bound train reached Moriac at about 7.40 p.m dropped passengers. and began to reverse along the single track into a siding to give right-of-way to the other train.

But the train from Port Fairy readied Moriac before the shunt was completed.

With seconds to spare, the driver and fireman in the shunting engine leapt on to the platform.

The heavy A2 engines, each weighing 120 tons, met in a terrific grinding crash, then rebounded against their trains, finally stopping 25 yards apart.

Screams echoed along the trains as the shock hurled the carriages together Dense clouds of steam hissed from the burst boiler of the Port Fairy engine.

This engine was completely derailed. Its cowcatcher and front bogie wheels were ripped off, and large sections of its iron plating were hurled 20ft.

The tender was forced against the leading carriage, telescoping the first two compartments into splintered woodwork and mangled seats and racks. Three of the victims were in these compartments.

Rails were ripped up and twisted as the disabled engines shuddered backwards to a stop.

The driver. Quinliven and the fireman. Bray, remained in the steam-filled cabin of the Port Fairy engine immediately after the crash, in a bid to shut off valves controlling the engine's oil tanks.

It was feared that the hundreds of gallons of oil in the tanks might catch fire.

There were no passengers in the leading carriage of the Warrnambool-bound train. This carriage was jolted against the next one and severely damaged.

First rescuer on the scene was William Keith, of Kellett st.. Northcote, who is holidaying in Moriac.

He said, later: "I was walking past the station to get a paper at about 7.45. The train in the platform had just started to shunt off the main line when I heard a mighty crash like an explosion.

"Passengers started Jumping out of the trains, but nobody panicked.

"I rushed along the platform and saw that the front compartments of the Port Fairy train were completely wrecked.

"With three other men off the train I ran to the station office and grabbed axes and kerosene lanterns. We rushed back to the damaged train and started to hack our way into the shattered compartments.

"Other passengers carried an injured man and woman out of one of the compartments which still had an opening on to the train corridor.

"We worked for an hour to partly clear the other compartment, and then I found a woman's handbag among the debris. As I picked it up I saw a glove sticking out of the wreckage.

"I tried to pick up the glove, and found it was the gloved hand of a dead woman. She was jammed on a seat which had been forced nearly up to the roof by the engine tender."

Two ambulances were rushed to Moriac from Geelong, with several doctors and nurses from Geelong Hospital.

Most of the passengers had suffered only a shaking, however, and did not require treatment.

Five private buses from Geelong picked up stranded passengers at Moriac and look them to Warrnambool, Geelong, and Melbourne.

From The Sunday Herald Sunday 13 April 1952:


A woman was killed and seven persons were seriously injured when two passenger trains collided head-on at Moriac (59 miles south of Melbourne), near Geelong, at 8.15 to-night.

Both engines were derailed, and the first carriage of the Geelong-bound train was telescoped by the coal tender.

The dead woman was in this carriage.

The trains involved were the 3.25 p.m. passenger train from Port Fairy to Geelong, and the 5.50 p.m. train from Melbourne to Warrnambool, which passed through Geelong at 7.5 p.m.


The Warrnambool-bound train had stopped at Moriac and was shunting into a siding to allow the other train to pass along the single track when the crash occurred.

The impact hurled the Warrnambool-bound train backwards and the two engines, badly wrecked, came to rest 30ft apart.

One engine hung at an acute angle on its side and the crew were badly scalded by escaping steam.

The crash was heard several miles away and hundreds of people rushed to the scene.

Two ambulances were called from Geelong, and ambulancemen joined railwaymen and volunteers in freeing the injured from badly damaged carriages.


Many other passengers were slightly hurt or badly affected by shock.

They were treated on the spot.

Mr. T. Mather, newsagent and postmaster at Moriac, said the noise of the crash startled him and he was on the scene in a matter of minutes.

"There was great confusion," he said. "People on the trains were calling out for help. Many feared a fire would break out.

"However, we soon got relief gangs together and set to work to free those trapped in the wrecked carriage. One woman was dead, and a man seemed to be dead or dying."

Special buses were chartered by the Railway Department to convey the passengers to their destinations.

The line was blocked, but repair gangs were soon at work clearing the debris.