Rail Hold-Up at Waikanae

Typical Kiwirail freight train
Typical Kiwirail freight train

Freight loco blocks key road intersection for hour on Sunday

By Hilary Hudson

A freight train overshot a system check and remained stationary in the middle of the Elizabeth Street/State Highway One intersection at Waikanae for an hour yesterday evening, blocking traffic for kilometres on SH1.

Traffic on the main highway, both North and Southbound, backed up for several kilometres — and vehicles travelling to and from East Waikanae, and from Upper Hutt, had nowhere to go.

KiwiRail have just stated: “A freight service was halted yesterday evening at Waikanae due to an ‘operational incident.’ KiwiRail acknowledges the impact on road traffic but we have strict procedures that were immediately put in place to ensure the safety of passengers, crew, and the public.”

Warning to the public!

Well we have been warned! The train stayed there for an hour between 6pm and 7pm.

Think Christchurch, first a major earthquake in the middle of the night in spring 2010. No casualties just major damage.  Another rumble just on Christmas then in February 2011 the big one on a weekday lunch time with major casualties.

My personal view: Hilary Hudson

All I can say is: “How lucky we were. No one got distracted by the television news and left a frying pan on the stove leaving a fire for their neighbours’ hoses to put out, or not. No accidents needing an ambulance, no flash floods, no earthquake.

“On any weekday the northbound rail units to Waikanae due at 6pm, 6.12pm, 6.30pm and 6.55pm would have been stacked up, with the Capital Connection adding to the mix.

“On a summer weekday evening the Auckland to Wellington train would have been held up and on any weekday the southbound 6.05pm, 6.40pm and 7pm units could not have left the station.

“Meanwhile the passengers from the rail unit arriving at 10 to six would have just got to their cars on the main highway and been attempting to do their u turns against a wall of two lanes of solid traffic.

“Those parked in the eastern designated car park would be filling up all possible approaches to Elizabeth Street, moving up the hill to block Seddon Street and Winara Avenue to try and jump the queue to get more quickly to SH1.

“That it was on Sunday, and that there were no casualties, was a lucky fluke.

“As a community there have to be choices.  Do we really want to tart up the town centres of Paraparaumu and Waikanae or would that money be better spent purchasing the land between Huia Street and Octavious  Road, building a relatively short link   and creating an escape route which any day now we might just need.”

Just a followup to this article. In today’s Kapiti News (25 June) Blanche Charles writes that she was on her way to Wellington Hospitial with her husband in the throes of a heart attack and they were held up on the east side of the railway line for an hour.

So a life could so easily been lost.

The Huia Street extension must be the easiest way through this