KiwiRail issued the following statement today [Monday 26 February] regarding the closure of crossings in Carterton and Wairarapa.

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KiwiRail statement: Fewer level crossings to be closed in the Wairarapa following independent report

KiwiRail has reduced the number of Wairarapa level crossings to be closed following an independent report commissioned in response to feedback from the community.

Safety improvements to level crossings across the Wairarapa are needed so that Greater Wellington Regional Council can run their hybrid trains from 2028/29. These new trains will run more frequently, doubling services between Masterton and Wellington, and the upgraded track will see faster journey times.

KiwiRail Programme Director Andy Lyon says a just completed independent region-wide report, factoring in safety as well as traffic impacts and community amenity, has recommended five crossings need to close.

One of these, Judds Road in Masterton, will remain open if Masterton District Council secures funding for road changes needed to ensure the long term safety of the crossing.

“Risk around level crossings goes up as trains run more often and at faster speeds,” Mr Lyon says.

“There are currently 30 public level crossings on a 45km stretch of track between the Remutaka Range and Masterton, which is a very high number considering the frequency of commuter rail services that operate in this area.

“To run more trains, we need to identify major safety improvements and take them to the rail regulator (NZTA/Waka Kotahi) for approval. While the majority of crossings will be upgraded with flashing lights, bells and barrier arms, the sheer numbers mean that some will need to close,” Andy Lyon says.

“Last year we proposed closing seven level crossings, but through working with the community and elected members the report has identified additional factors that have reduced the number of recommended closures to five.

“Two of those are in Carterton, given there are five crossings in the town which are only about 250 metres apart it was expected it would not be practical to keep all of these open. The study has helped us gain a better understanding of the community impact which is why we are now in a position to retain the Pembroke St crossing; we know this was a concern to emergency services and locals.

“Judds Rd in Masterton is another crossing that needs to be addressed. It already poses a significant safety risk, with some trucks stopped at the intersection sitting partially over the rail line. The report identifies that there are significant economic benefits to the community in keeping this crossing open. We have pushed this to the very end of the work schedule to enable Masterton District Council to secure funding the road changes needed to keep it open.

“I want to thank the councils, stakeholders and the wider Wairarapa community for their input over last year. That contribution has helped us reach a fair and reasonable compromise, which will deliver benefits for the region,” Andy Lyon says.

KiwiRail expects to begin work on the 30 Wairarapa level crossings in April. Work will start in the south, moving north across the region. Civil works are expected to be completed in 2025, with signals expected to be activated and the upgraded crossings operational in 2026.