KiwiRail has warned drivers and pedestrians to steer clear of the Main North Line on New Zealand’s South Island, despite the fact the line is closed to commercial operations due to earthquake repairs.
Todd Moyle is the GM of network services for the rail operator.
Moyle says concern is increasing over the number of people ignoring warnings to stay off the line, which remains closed during repair work.
“They are putting themselves and staff working on the line at risk,” he said on Friday.
“Yesterday our staff saw trucks parked on the line. They appear to have presumed that because the line is currently closed for regular services it is not being used but that is not the case.
“Staff repairing the line are using hi-rails – a small truck that rides on the tracks – and we will shortly begin using work trains.
“The usual rules for access to the track apply to the Main North Line.”
Moyle said the public needed to understand not to enter the rail corridor without a permit.
“Otherwise they are both being unsafe and breaking the law,” he said.
“The line is going to be increasingly busy with repair and construction work as KiwiRail’s programme gathers pace.
“It is a vital part of our network for moving freight between the islands and we want it to be back up and running as soon as possible.”
TrackSafe Foundation manager Megan Drayton reiterated KiwiRail’s concerns, saying people needed to respect the potential dangers of a railway at all times.
“It is illegal to be on railway tracks at any point other than a level crossing, and this rule of law also applies when passenger and freight services are not operating,” Drayton said.
“Hi-rail vehicles and other rail maintenance vehicles are still using the tracks, and they have legal right of way.
“There remains a risk of collision with these vehicles as they operate in a similar way to trains – they are often quiet, they can’t always stop in a hurry and they can’t swerve to avoid objects on the tracks.”