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.