Rail staff relieved after seeing crash

Last updated 15:14 17/06/2014

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A digger driver has been taken to hospital after being hit by a train today on tracks in the central North Island in an incident now under investigation by workplace safety authorities.

A train driver and workers on the tracks have been offered counselling after witnessing this morning's collision.

KiwiRail has confirmed it is investigating the incident alongside WorkSafe and the Transport Accident Investigation Commission.

Police said the digger was working on the tracks when it was hit by a train.

Emergency services were called just after 9am.

Medics said the man, who was trapped in the cab of his machine, was in a serious or critical condition.

KiwiRail spokeswoman Jenni Austin said the driver of the digger had been taken to hospital by ambulance. The train driver was not hurt in the collision but had been relieved of their duties and offered counselling which is part of KiwiRail's standard practice.

The Raurimu Spiral is a looped section of the main trunk line that was built to ease the gradient of steep country between National Park and Taumarunui.

Austin said a northbound freight train hit the digger which was being operated by a KiwiRail contractor at 9.10am.

The train was not derailed but was held up for a safety check.

Another driver was needed to complete the train's journey as drivers were always replaced after an accident, she said.

It was not yet known what happened to cause the collision, Austin said.

 "Our first priority is on the injured man and the welfare of those others  involved in this incident."

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- The Dominion Post

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