Press Release – KiwiRail
Badly washed-out sections of track along Wellington’s foreshore have kept KiwiRail crews busy day and night in an effort to restore rail services after Thursday’s devastating storm.
Waves battered the Wairarapa Line between Petone and Ngauranga, washing away the sea wall and badly damaging the track and other infrastructure.
KiwiRail’s Chief Executive, Jim Quinn, says the damage is unprecedented. “We had track so undermined it was literally hanging unsupported. Overhead poles were damaged at their foundations. Debris and ballast covered the lines.”
Mr Quinn says the effort to repair the line began immediately as work trains were called up, material sourced and a specialist tamper machine brought into Wellington from outside the local network. “This work continued throughout the weekend as a 24 hour operation and our people have been hugely committed to restoring the network as quickly as possible.”
He says, “Materials are on site along with diggers and cranes. We’ve lifted the undermined sections of track and cleared one track for our work trains. As you drive along the Wellington motorway, you can see some of the enormity of the task and the scale of the repairs.”
“We have some 1400 cubic metres of fill for the job, including huge rocks which are trucked in, six or seven per truck, from Linton and Ohakune.”
“Once we’ve been able to rebuild the foundations of the track and the sea wall, we’ll need to restore our traction structures, overhead power lines, train detection, signalling and communications systems.”
Mr Quinn says the patience of passengers and motorists facing travel delays is appreciated. “It’s going to take time. We are dedicated to reopening the line as soon as possible, but it is a tough and complex job. Realistically, we’re unlikely to see services restored on the Wairarapa-Hutt Valley Line until the end of the week.”
KiwiRail is advising Hutt Valley Line and Wairarapa Line train commuters to expect and plan for longer than usual travel times into Wellington City this week.
The track damage means no trains will be able to run between Petone and Wellington until repairs are completed and all train services between Petone and Wellington will need to be bus replaced until further notice.
Reduced train services and bus replacement are likely to increase traffic congestion and commuters are being urged to prepare for this and to expect their commuting time to be longer than usual this week. There will also be no parking on Hutt Road, south of the Petone Railway Station, which will be utilised as a bus parking layby for the train replacement buses.
KiwiRail is working with NZ Police, New Zealand Transport Agency and Wellington Regional Emergency Management Office in an effort to minimise the disruption to commuters.