Wharerata railway being secured

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.

~David Stokes

KiwiRail works on slips and culverts that threaten line near Beach Loop

Gisborne Herald   Wed 29th June 2016

by Andrew Anton

A combination of slips, blocked culverts, heavy rain and forestry slash resulted in a lake forming at the Wharekakaho Stream at the northern end of Beach Loop on the Gisborne-Napier rail line last week. It threatened another blowout on the mothballed line but KiwiRail staff have now rectified the situation.

“We anticipate being there for another two to three weeks,” a KiwiRail statement said. “At present we are clearing a blocked culvert and have also undertaken drainage maintenance at points through this section.” “There are some slips which we will work our way through over the next two to three weeks, as well as clearing and cleaning of culverts. The causes of slips and culvert blockages range from rain events to slash and scrub run-off into the culverts.”

Gisborne resident David Stokes, who observed the work, said it was good news that the iconic Wharerata section had been savedfrom what was becoming a “dangerous” situation.  “A lake had formed and posed a real risk of carrying away 80 metres of rail embankment.”

The Napier-Gisborne line was mothballed in 2012 after the line was badly damaged in the Beach Loop area by a storm.  In 2014, Hawke’s Bay Regional Council set aside $5.46 million to potentially part-fund the resurrection of a freight service between Napier and Wairoa on the line.

KiwiRail is still working through matters surrounding a potential sale or lease agreement with Hawke’s Bay Regional Council.