Farming group pleased with new KiwiRail policy

A proposal to charge farmers with rail crossings on their land an annual fee has been ditched.

There are about 1300 private rail crossings along the rail network in New Zealand and it's estimated that as many as 700 of them are unauthorised or undocumented.

KiwiRail has been working with Federated Farmers and other interested parties to develop a policy to make sure the crossings are legally documented and safely maintained.

The policy has just been released, and has seen plans to charge a yearly fee scrapped.

"There will now be no set annual fee as was proposed two years ago. Instead, most farmers will be charged only the actual cost of the inspection of any crossings on their land," said KiwiRail Group General Manager Investment, Planning and Risk David Gordon.

"That is estimated at $50 to $100 per crossing, with inspections every two years."

Farmers will be responsible for the cost of any work needed make sure the crossing is safe to use.

"This generally includes the removal of vegetation to ensure adequate view lines paying to maintain the road/track surface, and any other works required to meet current safety standards and prevent damage to the railway," said Mr Gordon.

Federated Farmers has welcomed the move.

"It's good that KiwiRail will only charge actual costs and that KiwiRail is formalising farmer use of rail crossings, which provides farmers with some certainty they can continue to use them," said Federated Farmers President Katie Milne.

 

However she is worried about possible access issues in future.

"There is a concern that some informal rail crossings will be closed because the safety concerns are considered insurmountable. That's going to be difficult for farmers if that was their only route for accessing parts of their farm," said Ms Milne.

"Federated Farmers will continue working with KiwiRail on these safety and access issues going forward."

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