Wellington commuters should expect delays
Fri, 01 Oct 2010 7:24a.m.
Some Wellington rail services are back up and running this morning after heavy rain lashed the region, causing several landslides, contributing to a head-on crash between two trains and closing the North Island's main rail line.
The train drivers, who escaped their crashed cabs unscathed, were father and son, The Dominion Post reported.
Three passengers were taken to hospital with moderate injuries.
Two other slips on the Paraparaumu line - at Ngauranga and Muri - and one on the Johnsonville line also hindered services.
KiwiRail chief executive Jim Quinn today said the Johnsonville line had reopened and trains were running on the Paraparaumu line between Wellington and Plimmerton although significant delays were likely.
The Muri slip had not yet been cleared and buses would replace rail services north of Plimmerton, he said.
The Capital Connection, which runs between Palmerston North and Wellington, would also be replaced by buses.
"We apologise for delays and inconvenience, and hope our passengers will bear with us while we restore train services to normal," Mr Quinn said.
"We have done our best to get services running this morning, but they are more limited than normal and not running to the normal timetable on the Paraparaumu Line."
Mr Quinn said the damaged trains were cleared from the Paraparaumu line overnight.
"That's a pretty unbelievable coincidence. We are a bit of a family in rail. The drivers were obviously shaken and shocked. That's a pretty dramatic thing to go through," Mr Quinn told the newspaper.
The pair were believed to have undergone drug and alcohol tests last night.
It took several hours to unload the passengers -- 40 from the northbound train and 14 from the southbound train -- due to poor weather and the potential danger of exposed wires.
Retired Levin school teacher Bev Bowater said she thought she was going to die.
"We were close to the point of impact ... The train driver yelled out to us brace yourselves. We hit the slip and shifted off the track. The driver's cab was destroyed. He had to move himself out of the way," she said.
"It's just amazing. I just cannot believe how safe we all are. It rattled my cage. I'm still in a state of shock."
Meanwhile, heavy rain also caused the collapse of a retaining wall onto a house in Kilbirnie, forcing the family out of the uninhabitable building, Wellington City Council spokesman Richard MacLean said.
Building inspectors, insurers and the fire service will inspect the house today.
"Our building inspectors are a bit concerned about some of the neighbouring houses as well, but so far none of them have had any damage," Mr MacLean said.
A slip in the northern suburb of Khandallah had undermined a couple of properties, and council staff were investigating.
The council call centre had the busiest day of the winter.
In Lower Hutt, rising river levels in the Hutt River were threatening vehicles parked in the Riverside Car Park, police said.
Heavy rain had earlier closed roads in Nelson and Marlborough, and caused the Pelorus River to burst its banks.
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