A man lying on railway tracks was killed instantly when he was hit by a train in central Te Kuiti early this morning.

Police said the driver of the southbound train had seen the man and applied emergency braking systems but had been unable to stop.

The man suffered multiple injuries and was killed instantly.

Police were called to the scene about 1.48am. The man's death has been referred to the Coroner and police are calling for help from the public to identify him.