Train crashes through barrier

TIM DONOGHUE
Last updated 16:54 27/05/2014
LUKAS HAYWARD/Stuff.co.nz

A train failed to stop at Melling Station in the Hutt Valley.

Melling train crash
KEVIN STENT/Fairfax NZ Zoom
Passenger Ross Moreland says a driver told passengers to brace themselves before the train hit the end of the line.

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A section of State Highway 2 in Lower Hutt will be closed tonight as cranes are brought in to remove the wreckage of a train that crashed this morning.

The passenger train smashed into a buffer at the end of the Melling Line in Hutt Valley this morning.

The train failed to stop when it came to the end of the Melling line beside the motorway about 8.10am, police spokesman Mike Coleman said.

The front of the dual single-unit Matangi train was driven about two metres up off the rails by the impact. It also took out a power pole.

A NZ Transport Agency spokesman said the southbound lanes of State Highway 2 would be closed between Melling and Dowse Drive between 8pm and 4.30am tonight.

A detour would be in place and northbound drivers wouldn't be affected.

'BRACE YOURSELVES'

Ross Moreland, a company director from Hamilton, was at the front of the train when the impact happened.

"The driver jumped out of his cab and told us to brace ourselves when we were roughly 300 metres from the end of the line.

"He shouted out: 'I've got no brakes, brace yourselves'. From what I saw the driver looked like he could do nothing. He didn't have any brakes at all," Moreland said.

There were a woman and three men, including the driver, in the front section of the train.

Moreland praised the driver, who went to the back of the train after the impact and checked out all the passengers.

"The woman who was injured told people she stood up before the impact."

Moreland said he crouched down and braced himself before the seat in front of him.

"I'm going to have a few bruises."

The impact shook houses 200 metres away on Pharazyn St, resident Dan Hickson said.

Thomas Nanai, who also lives near the station, said his family were having breakfast when he heard a boom outside "like a truck hitting another truck".

The family thought it was another accident on the motorway near the busy Melling Bridge intersection, and were surprised to see the front of the train had launched up over the concrete buffer.

One of the overhead 1100-volt power lines was touching the top of the train.

'WE'RE VERY SORRY'

KiwiRail general manager Peter Reidy said Matangi trains would not be taken of the rails in the wake of today's events.

"This was a very serious incident and we're very sorry it happened," he said.

There were 10 passengers were on the train. One who received minor cuts and another who was in shock who have been taken to Wellington Hospital.

Both were discharged from hospital this afternoon.

Reidy said the driver was in shock.

"As part of the overall inquiry our people will be talking to the driver to get his version of events".

"The main priority for KiwiRail today was the welfare of passengers and staff."

Reidy said the train involved in today's incident underwent a full thorough service 14 days ago.

Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee said it was not yet known why the train derailed but KiwiRail executives had been on site to try to figure that out.

"I think you could say anything is possible. Until they actually do the investigation they won't know ... This is very disconcerting because we are encouraging people to use commuter rail, not only do we want it to be reliable but we want it to be safe."

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He refused to speculate on what caused the accident but expected to be briefed this afternoon on the preliminary findings.

- The Dominion Post

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