Firefighters attending overnight's fatal train crash had a tough job - to locate the person who had been hit.

A 32-year-old man died after being hit by a train on tracks near Pah Rd, near Te Puke at 2.16am and firefighters say there was only so much they could do to help.

Te Puke volunteer fire brigade chief fire officer Glenn Williams was at the scene with crews from Te Puke and Maketu.

"Our involvement was to walk along the tracks to locate the person who had been hit. Once we located the pedestrian we went to check on the [train] driver."

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Williams said the driver was "obviously shaken up".

Because of the lack of daylight, firefighters left the scene and returned about 7am to clean up the railway.

Williams said fire crews would be going through a debrief to make sure all of the firefighters who attended the incident were taken care of.

A police media spokeswoman said a formal identification process was underway and police were investigating the incident.

Officers were at the scene this morning, along with KiwiRail staff and a local kaumatua who blessed the site.

Residents in the area said the tracks were regularly used by people walking home from Te Puke at night.

Police and rail staff at the scene near Te Puke where a person was killed when they were hit by a train overnight. Photo/Amy Diamond
Police and rail staff at the scene near Te Puke where a person was killed when they were hit by a train overnight. Photo/Amy Diamond

A KiwiRail spokesman said the freight train had been travelling from Mount Maunganui to Kawerau when it struck a person on the tracks.

"Following standard procedure the driver has been stood down and is being offered counselling," the spokesman said.