A train driver made a miraculous escape after his locomotive derailed in the middle of Hinds this morning.
The driver was unharmed in the spectacular crash, and fortunately there was no one waiting at the level crossing where the train eventually came to rest on its side.
The locomotive was not carrying any carriages at the time and it appears to have derailed after entering a passing loop as it headed south through Hinds, shortly before 8am. Trains had been diverted to the passing loop as routine maintenance was being carried out on the main line.
KiwiRail spokesperson Jenni Austin said the locomotive was being repositioned from Christchurch to Dunedin when the accident occurred.
KiwiRail is now investigating what caused the crash.
It's far too early to give any indication of what happened, she said.
Our priority is always the driver and then getting the derailed locomotive back on the track and getting the track operational again.
The train driver was checked over by St John Ambulance staff at the scene but was given the all clear.
She said because the crash occurred on a passing loop, that made it easier to get the main trunk line reopened. That was done by mid-afternoon.
The locomotive initially left the tracks around 100m south of the level crossing on Delamaine Street. It dug into the surrounding stones, ripped up the track and sleepers and slid towards the intersection; it has then come to rest off to the side of the mangled railway tracks in the middle of the level crossing.