An American engineering company, AECOM, has advised the Ruapehu District Council to upgrade the historic Ohakune Station and signal box after it was deemed an earthquake risk.

In a report the company says upgrading the building to above 34 per cent is well worth investigation and doing. However, a detailed seismic assessment would need to be undertaken at an approximate cost of $38,000.

The earthquake restoration was estimated to be between $300,000 and $500,000.

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The Ohakune Railway Station and signal box are central icons of the rail heritage
precinct at Ohakune Junction. Ruapehu Mayor Don Cameron said they were physical reminders of the historical importance of rail to the region.

The station building has been assessed as having a seismic strength of just 30 per cent of an equivalent new building.

Cameron said updating the station's strength was solely conditional upon the existing chimneys being strengthened, removed or replaced with lightweight material.

He said the cost to the council of upgrading was greater than $275,000 and the council would need to contribute one third of that. Or the Ohakune Railway Building could be put into a trust to increase the opportunities to apply for external funding sources, which are not available to the council, he said.

Tomorrow at a meeting, council discussion will continue on the cost of earthquake proofing the station.

The station has a category 2 status under the New Zealand Historic Places Trust with the heritage value of the station and surrounding area being recognised locally in the 1990s.

The signal box had been relocated to the junction from Paekakariki and is unchanged from when it was built in 1909.

The station is just one of only two remaining North Island main trunk early 20th century stations in the Central Plateau still operating as major stations.

Cameron said there was strong community support throughout the region for the old station. In 1990 volunteers formed a group called Main Trunk Rail Ohakune to promote and protect the building.

Projected costs:

* $85,000 - for temporary removal of building to about 11km away. To re-site to a greater distance would increase the cost.
* $25,000 - strengthening of chimney (screw pile metal pipe option). This is a minimum cost as the options to strengthen the chimney will need to be looked at following new information.
* $65,000 - repiling of the Ohakune Station Building. This was an estimation by contractor after the results of ground investigations showed it needed firming up.
* $100,000 - transporting the building back to site and refixing to new foundations.
* $275,000 total to date.