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KiwiRail review leads to backtrack on crossings

KiwiRail has committed to closing fewer level crossings in Wairarapa.

KiwiRail proposed the level crossing closures in May last year. However, faced with the ire of public road users, residents, and local businesses, the national rail company were forced to commission an independent report.

There are currently 30 public level crossings between Remutaka Hill and Masterton, and to support the new hybrid trains coming in 2028-29, KiwiRail needs to complete safety improvements to these crossings.

KiwiRail programme director Andy Lyon said the risk at level crossings will be increased with the introduction of newer and faster trains.

“To run more trains, we need to identify major safety improvements and take them to the rail regulation [NZTA/Waka Kotahi] for approval,” Lyon said.

Initially, the proposed number of closures totalled seven and included the level crossing on Pembroke St in Carterton and the Judds Rd crossing in Solway.

The proposal to close seven level crossings was not well-received. KiwiRail said it would work with the local communities, with steering groups set up to present locals’ views.

The Judds Rd level crossing has been granted a reprieve from closure, dependent on Masterton District Council [MDC] securing funding for road changes that would be needed to ensure the long-term safety of the crossing.

“Judds Rd in Masterton is another crossing that needs to be addressed,” Lyon said.

“It already poses a significant safety risk, with some trucks stopped at the intersection sitting partially over the rail line.”

Work on the Judds Rd crossing has been earmarked for later in the project to give MDC enough time to organise the required works on surrounding streets.

The Pembroke St crossing in Carterton is another that has been spared from closure after the public and emergency services expressed concern over the proposal.

Carterton mayor Ron Mark said the council and community had worked hard with KiwiRail to negotiate a better outcome.

He said they had achieved a better outcome than they anticipated when the project was first announced.

“The track upgrades and increased rail service will boost Wairarapa’s transport connections, and the benefits outweigh the potential impacts the two closures will have,” Mark said.

The final list of level crossing closures from the report includes Victoria St and Rhodes St in Carterton, and Brandon St and Fox St in Featherston.

Bell St in Featherston is an available alternative closure to the Fox St level crossing.

The SH53 Revans St and Norman Ave in Waingawa level crossing was identified for closure in the future, pending planned road upgrades in the area.

Lyon described the outcome of conversations with local stakeholders over the past year as being a “fair and reasonable compromise which will deliver benefits for the region”.

Work on the 30 level crossings is expected to begin in April and will work from south to north. Civil work is expected to be completed in 2025, with signals expected to be activated and upgrade crossings operational in 2026.

South Wairarapa District Council has been approached for comment on the planned closure of level crossings in Fox St and Brandon St, Featherston.

3 COMMENTS

  1. Article has missed mentioning Brooklyn Road in Carterton, which was on the original list for closure but has been removed in this review.

  2. Faster hybrid trains 🚆 what’s that got to do with residential and commercial areas? 🤔 and there are a number of train stations between Featherston and Masterton?. How fast do you want to go? Is there speed limits for trains like vehicles?. There MUST BE ANOTHER REASON FOR CLOSING THE CROSSINGS.

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