23 Jul 2009

Stranded passengers rescued after train derails

10:50 pm on 23 July 2009

About 250 passengers have been rescued after being stranded for hours on a train that derailed near Wellington on Thursday night.

The Wellington to Wairarapa service came off the lines when it hit a slip caused by bad weather.

The train hit the slip just outside a tunnel at Maymorn near Upper Hutt and derailed at 6.17pm. Then a carriage came off the tracks - but both stayed upright.

There were at least 250 passengers on board, but none were injured. Ambulance crews responded and local hospitals were put on standby just in case.

The incident happened at a spot that is hard to reach by road, meaning a locomotive had to be sent to the rescue, causing further delays.

All passengers on the Wellington to Masterton service were squeezed into three carriages, which were pulled back to Upper Hutt station late on Thursday night.

The passengers were taken to the Cosmopolitan Club and given a cup of tea. They were then put on buses and taken home to Wairarapa.

KiwiRail says the rail route will stay shut until at least midday on Friday.

The company says it is too early to talk about compensation for passengers.

Meanwhile, high winds and heavy rain caused problems and slips on the Rimutaka Hill Road linking Wellington and Wairarapa on Thursday night. The road is open, but caution is advised.