Some commuters who park on the harbour side of the Dunedin
Railway Station will have a longer walk to their workplaces
while the city council considers a replacement pedestrian
The popular and historic 27m rail footbridge was torn apart
by a train on Tuesday.
Yesterday, Toll Holdings Ltd and Port Otago started internal
investigations into why a pair of metal flaps on a
wagon-based container flipped open and caught the bridge,
causing it to collapse.
Engineers working for the Dunedin City Council also began
assessing the structural integrity of what was left of the
A temporary footbridge from Thomas Burns St to Castle St was
‘‘certainly'' being considered, but all options depended on
what state the remainder of the bridge was in, council city
environment general manager Tony Avery said.
Any decisions on a possible replacement for the wrecked
bridge were likely to take ‘‘weeks'' at least. ‘‘We are
looking at this with some urgency,'' Mr Avery said.
‘‘In the meantime, people are unfortunately going to have to
walk around [to the Anzac Ave crossing].'' The footbridge was
knocked down about 4.50pm on Tuesday. About four people were
on the bridge when the train struck it.
A teenage visitor from Australia fell about 4.5m, but was not
seriously injured. Yesterday, Toll Holdings Ltd, which owns
the train, sought to discover what caused the metal flaps,
which are usually secured by large pins with locking devices,
It was not known whether the pins that should have held the
flaps in place had been engaged properly.
‘‘That's what we need to find out,'' Toll spokeswoman Sue
Foley said. Asked if the train had a driver, Ms Foley said
there were ‘‘definitely'' Toll staff on board the train when
it collided with the bridge, but could not confirm if there
was a driver.
Trains shunting cargo around the yard were commonly
controlled remotely, but whether someone was actually driving
the train in this case was ‘‘completely irrelevant'' to what
had happened, she said.
Port Otago chief executive Geoff Plunket declined to confirm
if staff working for Port Otago had loaded the container or
if the locking pins that should have held the metal flaps
down on the container had been in place correctly.
He would not be commenting until the results of an internal
Port Otago investigation were known. He expected that to be
completed within the next few days.
A Department of Labour spokeswoman said a health and safety
inspector attended the scene and the department was
conducting a preliminary investigation to determine if
further investigation was required.
The railway line was back in use yesterday and already there
were calls for the 104-year-old ‘‘bow-string'' bridge to be
restored to its original form.
Taieri Gorge railway manager Murray Bond said the bridge was
an important part of Dunedin's historic infrastructure.
Historic Places Trust regional manager Owen Graham said the
trust would like to see the bridge rebuilt, even if only as a
While it was not registered as an historic site, the bridge
was one of only five or six of its type in New Zealand.