Crash causes KiwiRail to reassess track that runs directly into pole

KiwiRail says it will consider removing the poll from the middle of the Lower Hutt train track, but doesn’t want to jump to “any conclusions” or do “anything hasty.”

KiwiRail says it will consider removing the pole from the middle of the Lower Hutt train track, but doesn’t want to jump to “any conclusions” or do “anything hasty.”

A train crash at Melling Station in Lower Hutt this morning has caused national transport operator KiwiRail to reconsider a train track that runs directly into a pole.

The passenger train, at the time carrying only 10 people, collided with the pole at around 8:08am this morning, in an incident which KiwiRail chief executive Peter Reidy described as “perhaps preventable.”

“I say preventable in the sense that, if we didn’t have this train on a track, where, ostensibly, we appear to have built a power pole right in the middle of it, then maybe it wouldn’t have hit it,” he said. “But this is early days, and that’s something we’ll be assessing throughout the course of the investigation.”

Asked if the pole had certainly been the cause of the accident, Reidy said he couldn’t comment on that definitively.

“Well there’s all sorts of things we have to consider at this stage,” he said, “sun strike, the status of the driver, the speed, the state of the rails – was there any ice on there? Was there a large pole in the middle of the track? It was quite cold this morning, so all of those things will be looked into.”

Reidy would not comment on reports that passengers had been told by the driver to “brace for impact” because “there’s a pole.”

The incident comes just six months after Wellington Airport was forced to remove a large, stone wall in the middle of its runway, which many suspected had contributed to several aircraft colliding with it.