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PLUS: Answer soon on Judds Rd level crossing

There is hope in sight for businesses and residents on Judds Rd in Solway who were poised to face the ramifications of a level crossing closure after an announcement by KiwiRail in May last year.

The rail company delivered flyers to residents on Judds Rd in Solway, telling them the level crossings on their street were being considered for closure to “create a safer and more efficient railway”.

Closing the crossing would result in the road becoming a dead end.

But now Deputy Masterton Mayor Bex Johnson is expecting “encouraging” news from KiwiRail after lengthy discussions.

Johnson represents the Masterton District Council on the Judds Road Steering Group, a group set up in response to the proposed closures, and said she is committed to finding a solution that will keep the road open.

“We discussed the proposal to close the road with KiwiRail last week and we’re expecting encouraging news [this] week,” Johnson said.

“KiwiRail have assured us that if funding can be sourced, there is an alternative to road closure.” Estimated costs are between $1.5 and $2 million.

“An independent report to KiwiRail estimated the economic benefit of keeping the road open was more than $2 million a year,” Johnson said.

She believes the required work would “effectively pay for itself”.

“We are committed to keeping this road open – it has to stay open.”

Chair of the steering group and Breadcraft director John Cockburn said he was already encouraged by the news.

“This gives us a process to follow to keep Judds Rd open, and that has to be good news,” he said.

“The community is totally opposed to the idea of closing it, the Council doesn’t want it to happen, and now we can get on with finding a solution that works for us and KiwiRail.”

Cockburn has previously spoken out against the proposed closure and said it would impact operations at Breadcraft.

The commercial bakery, which employs about 150 staff, has trucks and cars coming and going all day to its Judds Rd site via Ngaumutawa Rd.

Cockburn said closing the level crossing would increase the risk for his staff by forcing them to use the High St entrance, which he called “the gauntlet”.

KiwiRail also proposed the closure of other level crossings across the region, including Brooklyn Rd, Victoria St, Pembroke St, and Rhodes St in Carterton – though no update has been provided on their fates.

Previously, KiwiRail’s Metros general manager Jon Knight said that, under the proposal, “improvements” would be made to the 30 public crossings between Remutaka Tunnel and Masterton, some of which would be closed for the safety and effectiveness of the railway.

A decision on the fate of level crossing closure proposals was expected in November last year but was pushed back following feedback from the community to allow KiwiRail to commission an additional study looking at all 30 crossings.

Chief planning officer David Gordon said the study was expected to take a couple of months and that it “may confirm our initial assessment, or it may present a different perspective on any level crossing closures along the line.”

“It may be that we need to close fewer crossings,” Gordon said.

KiwiRail has been approached for comment on all level crossing closure proposals. Estimated costs are between $1.5 and $2 million.

“An independent report to KiwiRail estimated the economic benefit of keeping the road open was more than $2 million a year,” Johnson said.

She believes the required work would “effectively pay for itself”.

“We are committed to keeping this road open – it has to stay open.”

Chair of the steering group and Breadcraft director John Cockburn said he was already encouraged by the news.

“This gives us a process to follow to keep Judds Rd open, and that has to be good news,” he said.

“The community is totally opposed to the idea of closing it, the Council doesn’t want it to happen, and now we can get on with finding a solution that works for us and KiwiRail.”

Cockburn has previously spoken out against the proposed closure and said it would impact operations at Breadcraft.

The commercial bakery, which employs about 150 staff, has trucks and cars coming and going all day to its Judds Rd site via Ngaumutawa Rd.

Cockburn said closing the level crossing would increase the risk for his staff by forcing them to use the High St entrance, which he called “the gauntlet”.

KiwiRail also proposed the closure of other level crossings across the region, including Brooklyn Rd, Victoria St, Pembroke St, and Rhodes St in Carterton – though no update has been provided on their fates.

Previously, KiwiRail’s Metro general manager Jon Knight said that, under the proposal, “improvements” would be made to the 30 public crossings between Remutaka Tunnel and Masterton, some of which would be closed for the safety and effectiveness of the railway.

A decision on the fate of level crossing closure proposals was expected in November last year but was pushed back following feedback from the community to allow KiwiRail to commission an additional study looking at all 30 crossings.

Chief planning officer David Gordon said the study was expected to take a couple of months and that it “may confirm our initial assessment, or it may present a different perspective on any level crossing closures along the line.”

“It may be that we need to close fewer crossings,” Gordon said.

KiwiRail has been approached for comment on all level crossing closure proposals.

1 COMMENT

  1. Why is this issue of level Crossings still having being discussed. We have commercial and residential areas that kiwirail and councils have acknowledged. We cannot put a bypass in for Kiwirail or remove the level Crossings just STOP wasting money. State Highways 🛣 😑 go through TOWNS and all traffic slow down ? Is there a problem 😕 the Trains 🚆 🙄 🤔 can’t go slow 🤔. Just a thought 🤔.

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