A truck driver who died after his vehicle collided with a train had earlier told a colleague how he was looking forward to playing with his children at the end of the day.
The 28-year-old father of two, understood to be from Hamilton, died after his articulated truck collided with the southbound Northern Explorer passenger train about 9.45am yesterday on Te Onetea Rd near Rangiriri.
The Porter Group truck disintegrated in the crash and its engine was torn out and thrown about 35m into a paddock.
The train's passengers were again delayed for several hours later in the day after a fire broke out near the path of the train in Te Kuiti.
The company's general manager for sales and marketing, Darren Ralph, said the dead man's family and workmates were grieving at the loss of the well-known and popular driver, who had worked for Porter Group for two years.
Mr Ralph said the man was shifting some heavy machinery for a client when the accident happened.
"We were actually chatting to the contractors today and one of the last to speak to him was discussing with him how excited he was to get home to his kids."
Waikato district road policing manager inspector Freda Grace said investigations were under way into the cause of the crash. The accident has been referred to the coroner and WorkSafe New Zealand.
KiwiRail chief Jim Quinn said none of the 108 passengers on the train was injured. Their journey south was delayed for nearly four hours.
He said the level crossing on Te Onetea Rd had a stop sign but no barrier arms or bells.
The crossing was typical of many around the country and the accident, while tragic and the first at the site, did not mean changes were necessary.
"We have stop signs on the rail network everywhere that work perfectly fine," he said.
"It's a country dirt road and the road is probably not used a lot. It's probably the right level of security for that road. We've just got to find out what caused this and learn from that."
Mr Quinn said the train driver had been taken back to Auckland, where he was being offered victim support.