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'Panic' as runners tried to rescue woman trapped on train tracks

Published: 10:23AM Monday February 25, 2013 Source: ONE News

Two runners tried "madly" to save a wheel-chair bound woman from an approaching train, an eyewitness has told ONE News.

The wheelchair-bound woman is fighting for her life after she was struck by a freight train on a crossing in Auckland this morning.

The eyewitness told ONE News about the moment he saw the woman try to cross the tracks at Morningside Railway Station shortly after 9am.

He said the woman's wheelchair became stuck in the track but it was not long before two runners, a man and a woman, came to her aid.

"Then the runners were trying to pick the lady off the track but the train was approaching quite quickly," he told ONE News.

"They were panicking, really trying to madly get this lady out of there."

The witness said "they somehow managed to get her out of the chair" but that "she got hit and the runner, the lady got hit as well".

He said the wheelchair bound woman was unconscious and "severely injured", while the runners were in a state of shock.

Bystanders tried to reassure the trio and keep them warm until emergency services arrived.

"It's not a pretty sight to see someone like that," the man told ONE News.

The wheel-chair bound woman suffered serious injuries and was taken to Auckland Hospital.

One of the runners has been taken to hospital with minor injuries.

Another witness told ONE News that the female runner "got hurt as well when she got thrown around".

Uneven surface

A woman who has worked with Kiwirail to improve railway crossing for disabled people says she would never recommend the Morningside Train Station crossing.

"It's not a crossing I would recommend to anybody with mobility impairment, whether walking or wheeling, to cross," said Vivian Naylor.

Kiwirail say the path was upgraded in 2011 but there would always be some gaps and uneven patches.

"There will always be some gap and there will always be some bumping because of keeping everything exactly right on grade is not always the easiest thing but we would expect it to work," said Kiwirail chief executive Jim Quinn.

ONE News visited the site with Naylor but she was ordered to stay off the crossing by a Kiwirail staff member.

The staff member was on-site all afternoon to supervise every crossing.

Trains resume

Meanwhile, trains across Auckland are running to timetable, according to Veolia Transport.

Both tracks on the western line reopened at 11.30am after the service was reduced to one lane.

There is a 10km speed restriction still in place on the western line which may cause minor delays.

Veolia has apologised for the disruptions to train services. Follow their updates here.

Auckland police are investigating the crash.