A person has been hit by a freight train and killed in Canterbury.

The incident happened at around 3am, near Ashley village in the Waimakariri area of Canterbury and the person was confirmed dead at the scene.

No details of the deceased will be released until family has been fully informed of the incident.

The driver of the train was being supported by his employer who has given him some time off work and offered counselling.

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A spokesperson for Kiwi Rail said it was a difficult and distressing time for the driver and urged members of the public to be careful around railways.

"We urge people to keep away from the railway tracks and to only use official level crossings."

The circumstances are not being treated as suspicious by Canterbury Police and the case has been referred to the coroner.