AN initial report into the XPT train derailment which claimed the lives of two men at Wallan has confirmed the train was travelling at more than 100km/h at the time after being 85 minutes behind schedule when it arrived in Albury.
Train driver John Kennedy, 54, and pilot Sam Meintanis, 49, were killed and 39 passengers and five train crew members injured.
The report confirms the train travelling from Sydney to Melbourne on February 20 entered a passing loop at Wallan at a speed of more than 100 km/h when the speed limit for entering the loop was 15 km/h.
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ATSB Chief Commissioner Greg Hood noted: "Earlier that afternoon, the points at either end of the Wallan loop had been changed from their 'normal' position to their 'reverse' position, which meant that rail traffic, in both directions, would be diverted from the main line into the loop track."
The train's data logger showed an emergency brake application was applied a short distance from the points before entering the passing loop.
Mr Meintanis boarded the train at Kilmore to help Mr Kennedy navigate through a 24km section of track because signalling equipment was damaged.
During the derailment sequence, the lead power car rolled onto its left side.
"The continuing investigation will explore a range of factors, including a detailed examination of the alternative safeworking systems; the operation of the train; the conditions of the track and rolling stock; and crew and passenger survivability including a passenger survey," Mr Hood said.
The investigation could take nearly two years to fully complete.
Australian Rail Track Corporation chief executive John Fullerton said safety was the priority of the entire rail industry.
"Accidents of this nature are complex and can hardly ever be attributed to just one cause, and this investigation is one important way of ensuring lessons are learned, and systems and processes are put in place to avoid something similar from happening again," he said.
National Party deputy leader Steph Ryan hoped the preliminary report could bring some closure to the families involved.
"The report helps establish some of the basic facts," she said.
"The ATSB has noted that its preliminary investigation does not include any findings, factors contributing to the crash or safety issues.
"I welcome the ATSB's commitment to notifying operators, regulators and the public should it become aware of critical safety concerns."