The rail driver who was tragically killed in a train derailment in Wallan on Thursday night has been identified as 54-year-old John Kennedy.

The train, which left Sydney at 7.40am on Thursday morning was running over two hours late when it derailed and crashed 500m out of Wallan station north of Melbourne.

Kennedy, who held a number of roles across the rail network, was said to have taken great pride in his job and reportedly had a passion for train driving.

“He was a very experienced driver, who was well-known across our workforce, and was much loved. All of our people in TrainLink are absolutely devastated about this loss,” Transport for NSW secretary Rodd Staples said, according to SMH.

“It was the thing that he loved to do. He’d worked in different parts of the business over the years, and had also driven freight trains.

“He was a very, very experienced driver, and very well regarded and will be greatly missed.”

Kennedy was one of two fatalities after Thursday night’s horrific crash. A 49-year-old train pilot from Castlemaine, Victoria also died at the scene.

Members of the NSW Rail, Tram and Bus Union are being supported at this time, as the tragedy is expected to impact the entire railway community.

“Our thoughts go out to everyone impacted by this tragedy, in particular the families of the two people whose lives have been cut heartbreakingly short,” the union said.

The NSW and Victorian governments and transport officials are working together to determine the cause of the incident to avoid a repeat of Thursday’s tragic events.

It is believed that the driver and co-pilot could have been unaware of a speed reduction in the area at the time the train derailed. The train was believed to have been travelling at approximately 100km/hr through the area, which had a reduced speed limit of just 15km/hr due to ongoing signalling issues that were due to be fixed by the end of the week.

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau is asking witnesses or passengers onboard Thursday’s train to come forward with any information or evidence to aid the investigation.