It’s been a long time coming but Waikanae will get an emergency rail crossing, providing the town’s eastern residents with a second access route.
A growing population and fear of being cut off by stalled trains have prompted Kapiti Coast District Council to confirm the project, set to cost about $322,000.
Divided by the existing old State Highway 1 and adjacent North Island main trunk railway line, the only access to eastern Waikanae is by one level crossing or via Upper Hutt on the other side of the Akatarawa Hills.
The gated and locked road will give emergency vehicles access over the railway line and through the Goodmans Yard onto Anne and Elizabeth streets.
Waikanae Community Board chair Jocelyn Prvanov said the second route was a “long-time coming” and good news for the town.
“It’s going to mean some assurance for residents that if there is an emergency they can get get on to SH1.”
The board had lobbied for a long time for the road and would continue to look for a permanent solution.
A reported commissioned by council found that nearly 100 trains pass over the single track Elizabeth St crossing in a typical 24-hour period.
Although it was deemed unlikely a train would fully block the line, it was highly likely emergency services could not reach Waikanae East in the case of a blockage on the line, it found.
Since 2012 there had been no incidents where stationary trains blocked the crossing but barrier arm and track defects affected the crossing five times.
While Goodmans, NZTA and Kiwirail had agreed to the new access way, Kiwirail said it approved it only on the basis council continued to explore options for a second permanent road.
That would be by a crossing at Hadfield Rd or constructing an underpass or bridge over the current old SH1.
A 2010 study exploring the options of building an underpass below the highway between Te Moana Rd and Elizabeth St estimated the cost at $40 million, to be shared between NZTA and KCDC.
24 HOURS ON THE MAIN TRUNK LINE:
80 Metlink electric suburban passenger trains
19 Kiwirail freight trains
3 long distance passenger services