Two people have died after a car and a freight train collided near Palmerston North.

Another person suffered moderate injuries in the incident, which happened on Troup Rd near Woodville about 4.50pm.

One person is in a moderate condition and being transported to hospital.

Troup Rd remains closed and motorists are being asked to avoid the area if possible.

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A resident nearby told the Herald he heard the crash but initially had no idea that a train was involved.

"I thought it was a car crash on the main road but I looked out the window and couldn't see anything so I went back to work.

"I didn't even know there was a train there, normally you'd hear the train but I didn't even hear it.

"I don't think it's a very big train, it seemed quite short to me, only a few carriages," he said.

Chief operations officer of KiwiRail, Todd Moyle, said a freight train, which had been heading to Palmerston North from Napier, collided with the car.

It is understood the train and car came to a rest about 100 meters past the Troup Rd crossing. Emergency service personnel are working at the front of the train, Stuff reported.

"Sadly, it has been reported there are two fatalities, and our thoughts are with their families and loved ones," Moyle said.

The Serious Crash Unit is investigating and the road may be closed for some time.