Put safety first when rail line reopens

Publish Date : 11 Apr 2024
Puke Station

The southern railway line will reopen early next year.

Before that happens KiwiRail is keen to spread its safety messages, especially when 25,000 volts will power the new trains.

KiwiRail experts says electricity can jump gaps and coming too close or touching the lines will cause serious injury or death, making it essential people never try to touch lines, throw things at them, or dangle items from bridges.

They are urging parents to make sure children understand the dangers, and never play with kites, balloons or items that can reach a height near overhead lines, and always treat them as live.

Franklin Ward Councillor and Auckland Transport director Andy Baker says the line will be a game-changer, providing faster and quieter trains that are also better for the environment.

“The closure has been disruptive and has added cars to our already clogged roads, but I expect user numbers to return and even rise as soon as the service is back. We have been patient since the diesel train was retired in 2022 and I’m looking forward to electric trains smashing commute times.”

Electrification extends the overhead power system and upgrades the track, signals and level crossings along the 19km between Papakura and Pukekohe Station, where modern passenger facilities will complement the bus interchange, and a new platform will allow for six-cars at first, with an option to extend to nine in future.

Baker says the finish line is in sight. “KiwiRail has completed almost all the line work, built three platform fronts for stations to come, upgraded the track and half-a-dozen level-crossings, and started a signals upgrade.”

But he says all that will mean little if someone ignores safety and is injured.

“There are so many benefits and I applaud KiwiRail’s push to spread its safety message. It’s particularly important for those who live along the line. Be aware of your distance if you are working near the boundary and always keep four-metres away.”

He says those using water blasters need to take extra care, and a KiwiRail permit could be needed if trees near lines need trimming, scaffolding is necessary, or machinery might encroach on the four-metre rule.

“Let’s celebrate the new service but let’s make sure everyone is safe first.”

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