All rail freight services to and from Northland will cease during the anticipated months-long closure of the train route between Swanson and Whangārei (North Auckland Line).
The line was harmed by slips and washouts during Cyclone Gabrielle, but the most significant problem is a huge slide that occurred during the intense weather event on January 27 north of Helensville.
More than 25,000 cubic metres of rubble have fallen during this slip, destroying the train line and a road below.
Building a temporary earth bund to secure the area before workers start removing the slide is part of the enabling work that will start this week to rebuild the road and rail line, says KiwiRail. A long-term engineering solution is also being developed, which will be necessary to prevent repeated slips.
This is one of around 50 slips that occurred during the Auckland floods and Cyclone Gabrielle, KiwiRail chief operations officer Siva Sivapakkiam said.
“Our track teams have been busy clearing vegetation, repairing damaged rails and replacing culverts and we are still working through detailed engineering assessments for significant slips and flood-damaged bridges,” Sivapakkiam said.
Transport links between Auckland and Northland have been continuously disrupted due to the past month of extreme weather.
After being closed for several weeks due to slips, Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency opened the northbound land on the Brynderwyns from 8am yesterday.
“Confirmed timeframes for full reopening of this route in both directions is still being determined - most recent communications released by Waka Kotahi were indicating/targeting late March,” Northland Transportation Alliance general manager Calvin Thomas said.
While the interim roading arrangements were not ideal, Thomas said, they did provide a vital but precarious freight supply chain connection between Auckland and the entirety of Northland given the extraordinary level of devastation sustained on state highways, local roads, and the rail network.
The main detour through Waipū and Mangawhai to bypass the Brynderwyns closure was closed for a period due to flooding last week, but a part of that has since reopened.
Contractors are working around the clock to reopen several roads in Mangawhai and Kaiwaka that are either closed or down to one lane after torrential rain.
Waipū Gorge Rd is still blocked due to several slides, but there is a passable “drive with caution” sign for locals, and the Kaiwaka-Mangawhai Rd and Cove Rd are expected to reopen for light vehicles by this weekend.