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The four-car train hit the vehicle near Wollongong, about 56 miles south of Sydney at 4.15 a.m. local time, knocking the front carriage onto its side and tilting the second carriage, emergency services said.
The train driver was released by firefighters and taken to hospital along with a guard and two of the train's nine passengers.
Police set up a crime scene after a person was reported running away from the scene. It was not known how long the van had been parked on the tracks.