Dangerous railway crossing gets fenced off

Libbet civil construction workers Palea Ah Ken (left) and Ete Ah Ken, of Auckland, build a $75...
Libbet civil construction workers Palea Ah Ken (left) and Ete Ah Ken, of Auckland, build a $75,000 fence to prevent people walking across the railway tracks in Gore. PHOTO:SANDY EGGLESTON
The signs were there but no-one took any notice — however, a $75,000 fence will be very hard to ignore.

A 1.8m-high chain-link fence has been built along both sides of the railway line near the car park on the corner of Gore’s Tamworth Lane and Mersey St.

In the past, people who left their cars in the car park could be seen walking across the train track to the shops and businesses on the other side.

KiwiRail South Island Operations general manager Mark Heissenbuttel said KiwiRail staff reported people often crossed the railway way line wherever it suited them rather than at the Mersey St rail crossing.

"There is also evidence of a worn pathway indicating people are regularly crossing," Mr Heissenbuttel said.

The rail corridor was for trains only.

"It is dangerous and against the law to enter it without the appropriate permissions or to cross it at anywhere other than at a level crossing.

"Freight trains cannot swerve like cars, or stop quickly ... can come from either direction, day or night and can weigh over 1500 tonnes."

Trespassing is an offence under the Railways Act 2005 and could be punished with a $10,000 fine.

"Trespassing is a concerning issue across our national rail network.

"When we are made aware of regular trespassing incident locations, we will endeavour to restrict access through installing fencing and improving rail safety awareness."

Signs warning people not to trespass at the location, were installed by KiwiRail about 18 months ago.

The Gore District Council also requested that KiwiRail take action to improve safety at this location, after it received complaints, he said.

Gore District Council roading asset manager Peter Standring said the council had received comments from the public concerned about people crossing the railway lines in the wrong place.

"We share KiwiRail's concerns that people have ignored the signs the company put up about 18 months ago," Mr Standring said.

"We talked to KiwiRail about the issue and suggested putting in a crossing point between the car park and Brennan Lane."

Shopper Tracey Miller said from a safety point of view the fence was a good idea.

"But was it essential?"

Aon Insurance Brokers office is one of the businesses in the group of shops opposite the car park.

Branch manager Brian Pitcher said he was not concerned about the fence going up.

"I can understand it going up for health and safety reasons," he said.

"If someone walks on there and trips over and breaks an ankle what’s going to happen — they’re going to have a go at [KiwiRail] ’cause there’s rough stones there.

"They shouldn’t have been walking across there in the first place," Mr Pitcher said.

A business owner who did not want to be named said she was concerned someone might be tempted to "run the gauntlet" and run from one end of the fenced track to the other.

If a train came while they were in that zone they would have nowhere to go, she said.

Comments

KiwiRail finds it cheaper or just easier to hire Auckland contractors, have them drive to Gore including the ferry crossing (maybe that's free) put them up in motels, pay allowances for being away from home, meals etc. All rather than hire a local fencing company.
What is the problem here? Are locals so expensive hiring Aucklanders is cheaper or are Kiwi Rail just taking the lazy way out and ignoring local companies? No wonder Auckland has all the jobs when local work is contracted out to them.

People have been walking across the line at that point ever since there was a carpark there.Over 30 Years ?.Ive never seen any accidents reported in that location.Still leaves many kms of rail which can be crossed.The only accidents I can recall involve cars crossing and being hit.For example two fatalities at Ota Creek.Cattle have been hit at Waipahi.This is just defensive work in case something happens & Kiwi Rail or GDC are sued.Take a look at the current investigation into the child's death at the sewage ponds where GDC are under the spotlight.This is a flow on project.

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