Miniature railway back on track

JOEL MAXWELL AND MICHELLE DUFF
Last updated 10:42 09/01/2014
kapiti miniature railway
FAIRFAX NZ

Derailment: A derailment at Kapiti Miniature Railway in September has resulted in the track being closed over the Christmas break.

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Kapiti Coast's miniature railway is back on track after being temporarily being closed down by the Government.

WorkSafe New Zealand shut down operations of the railway on Boxing Day, right in the middle of its busiest season.

The railway's operators said the closure came as a shock; that the train carried thousands of passengers safely every year and its closure was a "gross overreaction

The model railway may start operating as soon as Sunday, after WorkSafe New Zealand today gave it the nod to re-open.

Chief inspector Alan Cooper said the operators had addressed the safety concerns identified in an engineer's report for WorkSafe. The main issues were around track alignment and the ''integrity'' of the equipment used on the track.

''The operators have been very responsive to the safety concerns and have worked effectively to overcome them,'' Mr Cooper said.

"They've developed a robust and well-timed plan to address other less safety-critical issues and we will work with them to ensure the plan's implemented.

Railway group president Rex Pennell said the group was hopeful the trains could run as early as Sunday.

First the group needs to organise about 10 to 14 volunteers from its members to run the service that will start at the regular time of 1pm at Raumati's Marine Gardens.

''The less people we have, the less trains we can run. If we have three people we can only run one train.''

The not-for-profit attraction was closed in December following an investigation into an incident at the official opening of a new section of track in September.

Mr Pennell said the bogeys, or wheels, on a carriage jumped off the rails and a woman riding the carriage fell off.

He said the group has since met requirements to prevent rail expansion in heat, and lower a retaining wall at the site of the incident on the new section of track.

Today Mr Cooper said the group had developed a ''robust and well-timed plan'' to address other less safety-critical issues.

''The engineer inspected the operation this morning and is entirely satisfied key issues have been dealt with and the threats to the safety of those using the railway have been removed so we have lifted the prohibition notice,'' Mr Cooper said. 

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- Kapiti Observer

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