Kiwi Rail says a Reefton woman who escaped unharmed when her car was struck by a train is "extremely lucky" to have survived.

Early news reports suggested that the woman had managed to get out of the vehicle before the impact, about 8.30 yesterday.

But it has since been revealed that she was still strapped into the driver's seat when the train came to rest, the collision causing the back of the seat to smash and collapse into the rear of the car.

Constable Mark Watson of the Reefton police said it appeared the woman had failed to notice the train when traversing the private crossing from a farm to State Highway 69, near Larry's Creek, about 15km north of Reefton.


KiwiRail spokeswoman Jenni Austin said the incident served as a timely warning to motorists.

"All motorists should regard rail crossings as the same as any other intersection and stop and make sure the way is clear before proceeding."

Ms Austin could not say how fast the empty coal train was going at the time of the crash, but they generally travelled about 80kph.