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Published: 2012-10-04 00:00:00

An investigation is underway into how safety can be improved at the site of a new 2.3 km passing track at Waharoa where children from a local marae often cross to access a nearby river.

The findings of the investigation will be considered by the Waikato regional transport committee at its next meeting being held on Monday 26 November.

Matamata-Piako mayor Hugh Vercoe raised the issue of safety during this week’s committee meeting, saying a solution needed to be found to “get the kids safely across the tracks”.

He explained to the committee that the alternative to crossing the railway lines is for children to use the busy State Highway 27.

Mr Vercoe said a fence KiwiRail proposed erecting to prevent access to the tracks would “last 30 seconds”.

KiwiRail area manager Peter Dix told the committee: “This is a very real problem for us. Not so much when the trains are moving, but if one stops while another is moving through the kids will see that as safe and risk getting caught in the middle.”

Mr Dix said it was important to first identify the extent of the problem ahead of determining the best fix so money is spent in the best way possible.

Staff from Waikato Regional Council will spend the next month working with Matamata-Piako District Council, KiwiRail and the NZ Transport Agency to identify options to remedy the issue.

The passing lane at Waharoa has been built to enable longer freight trains to travel between Hamilton and Tauranga.