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KiwiRail goes back to the drawing board

Following local feedback, KiwiRail is taking another look at its proposal to turn some Wairarapa roads into dead ends.

The initial plan was to put arm barriers, signal lights, and alarms on most level crossings in Wairarapa while permanently closing five others to improve safety ahead of new trains being brought into service at the end of the decade.

The state-owned rail company’s chief planning and asset development officer David Gordon said community feedback and further consultation with Waka Kotahi NZTA has warranted undertaking another study for the level crossing upgrade project.

Gordon said KiwiRail will commission a study that looks at all 30 level crossings in Wairarapa together rather than individually.

The study will consider Wairarapa Line as a whole and include a more detailed assessment of the traffic impacts of any level crossing closures.

Gordon said the study will take a couple of months to complete.

“It may confirm our initial assessment, or it may present a different perspective on any level crossing closures along the line,” he said.

“It may be that we need to close fewer crossings or more.”

Gordon said rail regulator Waka Kotahi will also be involved in the study to provide “clarity and certainty” regarding its safety assessment criteria.

“We appreciate this is a new development. Our intention is to openly demonstrate that we’ve listened and carried out a full assessment of the impact of any proposed closures.” The study will also consider feedback from residents, commuters, and emergency services.

Any decision about how to proceed will be based on the study’s recommendations, and councils and communities will be informed of its outcome and the next steps.

One of the five crossings initially proposed for closure, Judds Rd, is in Masterton District.

Deputy Mayor Bex Johnson said she is pleased to see KiwiRail reviewing its plans and noted it is important that public views and feedback are considered.

“The proposed closure of the Judds Rd rail crossing will come at a great cost to our community.

“The crossing needs to stay open,” she said.

PHOTO/FILE

Johnson said it is important to consider how closing Judds Rd will cause more traffic to move through already busy intersections.

“We look forward to exploring alternative options to closure that will meet the project’s intent of improving the safety of rail crossings for everyone,” she said.

Four of the five crossings initially proposed for closure are in Carterton District: Rhodes St, Pembroke St, Victoria St, and Brooklyn Rd.

Carterton District Council [CDC] chief executive Geoff Hamilton supports the new study. He sees it as “a positive step, given the gap that has emerged between KiwiRail’s statements around public safety and the lack of data to support proposed closures”.

Hamilton said he would like confirmation from KiwiRail that it will take council, commuter, and emergency services feedback on board as part of its process.

“Council roads will be affected by the higher traffic flows on alternative routes, and the public safety consequences of low volume streets becoming short-cuts following road closures isn’t something to be taken lightly,” he said.

“We look forward to KiwiRail providing council with the scope of work for the study from KiwiRail, to ensure that it is looking at all aspects of public safety across both the rail and roading networks.”

No proposals have yet been made about level crossings in South Wairarapa, where the district council is still in discussion with KiwiRail to ensure any upgrades are appropriately incorporated into its master plan.

2 COMMENTS

  1. Just put mirrers on each side faceing down the track like on sharp corners on the road.
    Making easy to see the light coming

  2. Safety is the driver but only if the costs are acceptable!? Good grief!! What is the next step – close the line down from Masterton to Featherston and make everyone access the train at Featherston? Where is rails responsiblity?
    Making some roads dead ends because of the cost of spending money to make them safer is totally irresponsible and should be flagged up to Government because of the negative flow on effects it can have on the economics of the Wairarapa both socially and business wise.
    I really feel this could be a ploy to get local councils involved so the safety costs at each crossing can be shared!?

Comments are closed.

Flynn Nicholls
Flynn Nicholls
Flynn Nicholls is a reporter at the Wairarapa Times-Age who regularly writes about education. He is originally from Wellington and is interested in environmental issues and public transport.

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