5 November, 2009
For immediate release
KiwiRail postpones repairs to Stratford-Okahukura railway line
KiwiRail will move Taranaki rail freight through Marton and the North Island
Main Trunk Line until it determines what to do about track damage to the
alternative Stratford-Okahukura Line (SOL), Chief Executive Jim Quinn
Eight Kilometres of railway sleepers at the northern end of the SOL between
Matiere and Okahukura were damaged on Monday night as a result of a
derailment. Currently, one return train a day uses the SOL to move dairy
products, empty containers and general goods between New Plymouth and the
northern section of the North Island Main Trunk.
Over the past year, on the basis of traffic volumes, the SOL has been the
most derailment-prone railway line in the country.
"We've had staff working on the derailment scene," said Mr Quinn. "Their
assessment is that track and sleeper damage is considerably greater than we
had originally envisaged.
"We have to make a decision on when we complete repairs and how much work we
do to bring the line back into good working order. In the meantime, we have
talked to customers and arranged for their freight to be moved through
"Investment in the SOL has been minimal for many years and even maintenance
has been kept to a minimum. Our assessment of the derailment scene indicates
we would need to spend up to $400,000 to repair the damage."
Mr Quinn said spending of $750,000 had already been allocated for this year
to improve the condition of one of the 24 tunnels and significant spending
has been forecast for the next 10 years to bring the line up to standard.
"The amount of traffic using it at the moment doesn't justify continuing
with repair work without a considered look at likely future freight volumes.
"That doesn't mean we have decided to close the line. It simply means that
we need to be sure that investing more than $1 million in the line within
the next 12 months and more money in future years to bring it up to
standard, is justified on commercial grounds."
Mr Quinn said a decision on the line is likely to be made early next year.
Network and freight staff currently working the SOL would be re-allocated to
KiwiRail has recently carried out a review of its business and is due to
deliver a strategic plan for the future of the business to the Government
later this month.
Kiwirail is hoping mother nature will finish this line off over time so to close it completely. KR's focus is on the Main Trunk and getting that line up to at least minium 21st century standards.
I Sad really. The SOL should really be right up there with the likes of the panama canal and the channel tunnel in terms of engineering achivements. The line was carved out of some of the worlds most challenging terrain with picks, shovels and pack horses, and now KR are going to kick all those men in the teeth by just leaving it to rot.
Disgraceful really. KiwiRail will grow to regret their actions
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