Passengers on a steam train excursion from Paekakariki to Wanganui got more than a gentle ride on a piece of history when a car crashed and rolled on to the track a few hundred metres in front of them.

The car crashed on a bend in Wanganui about 3pm yesterday, hit the kerb and landed on its side on the railway line.

Five hundred metres away, the steam train from Paekakariki, which had brought passengers to Wanganui for the afternoon, was travelling towards the crash scene.

Dozens of people lining Heads Rd to catch a glimpse of the JA 1271 engine watched as a police patrol car sped away to warn the train staff.


The train waited for about half an hour as police and train staff assessed whether it was safe for it to pass.

As a tow truck pulled the car off the line, the train inched through on its way back to the Taupo Quay yards.

Wanganui Fire Service station officer Bryan Coskerie said the driver of the car lost control on the bend.

"He hit the kerb and landed on his side partially on the railway line, as the steam train was coming along," Mr Coskerie said.

The male driver, the sole occupant of the car, was taken to Wanganui Hospital and was in a stable condition last night.

Wanganui police constable Sara Morriss said the driver failed a breath alcohol screening test at the scene.

- APN News & Media