Gisborne Herald – Wed 29th June 2016
by David Stokes
Gisbornites who have been dismayed at the ongoing neglect and preventable deterioration of our iconic Wharerata rail section.
On Friday I spent the day in the company of two middle management KiwiRail staff as they inspected the line. With the help of this uncanny dry weather, they have completed the reopening of a dangerous blockage at Wharekakaho (the stream at the northern end of Beach Loop). A lake had formed and posed a real risk of carrying away 80 metres of rail embankment.
More than this, they are in the process of removing a large volume of timber and silt that has accumulated while the water tunnel was blocked, and would otherwise form a new blockage. They have exposed the remnants of the protective cage at the water tunnel entrance and intend to repair it and reform another log trap up-stream. (This work is hugely significant as it has been a real worry in terms of getting our historic train back up to Beach Loop).
Due to budget constraint from above, this new work programme is restricted to the prevention of new damage – not the repair of older damage that has stabilised and appears unlikely to deteriorate further. They assessed other dangerous blockage situations in the region of the Kopuawhara monument which were immediately added to this current work programme, along with the appropriate repair of their inlet cage structures.
A good clearance of the watertables along Beach Loop has been done and similar work is intended south down the Kopuawhara Valley.
A commitment to more intensive regular monitoring appears to have surfaced from this but I got the impression that more intensive oversight of the activities of forestry companies and farmers by the two regional councils involved was thought to be solely lacking, and was a major concern for those staff in KiwiRail tasked with maintaining rail structures.