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Level crossing closure consultation closes

KiwiRail has now closed its public consultation on whether the Fox St or Bell St level crossing in Featherston should be closed as part of the rail operator’s safety improvement plan.

Closing one of the level crossings will be part of a series of planned level crossing closures along the Wairarapa Line to allow for an increase of train services from 10 to 20 a day by 2029, when new hybrid trains are expected to be operating.

Now that consultation has closed, KiwiRail is in the process of sharing submission information with the South Wairarapa District Council [SWDC], a KiwiRail spokesperson said.

“The Strategy Working Committee of SWDC meets on June 5 and will consider that information alongside the Featherston Masterplan report.

“They’ll then advise us of their preference about which of the two crossings they want to be upgraded and kept open and which one will close.”

The spokesperson said that both level crossings have similar risk profiles, meaning either one can be shut.

“KiwiRail is happy to be guided by the community on this decision,” KiwiRail’s Wellington metro upgrade programme director Andy Lyon previously told the Times-Age.

As well as the public, KiwiRail has also consulted separately with the Featherston Fire Brigade about their preference and the potential impact of closure on emergency service response times.

“We do have a preference, which is to close Bell St as the station lies 50 metres to the west of the Fox St crossing,” Featherston station chief Colin McKenna said.

“If they closed Fox St, it would most definitely lengthen response times as it is one of our main access routes, and we do respond to lots of jobs in that direction.

“We also have a large majority of our crew that live on the east side of the crossing.”

McKenna said that a staff member from KiwiRail met with the brigade recently, following an earlier meeting with the council, and he believes means their views have been “really well listened to”.

Regardless of which crossing gets shut, however, McKenna said the resulting safety improvements will benefit everybody.

Freddie Wilkie
Freddie Wilkie
Freddie Wilkie is a journalist at the Wairarapa Times-Age; originally moving from Christchurch, he is interested in housing stories as well as covering emergencies and crime.

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