What's happening with the Rain Forest Express?
Watercare suspended the operation of the Rainforest Express last May, following a major landslide that caused significant damage to the track.
The area in which this occurred had previously been considered a low risk area; as a result, we commissioned a thorough geotechnical investigation of the track and surrounds, now completed.
Planning and design work for a retaining wall at the site of the landside is also complete, with construction scheduled to commence in March this year.
However, the investigation has identified significant potential instability at a number of other places along the track; assessing whether these areas can be made safe would require considerable further study.
Incidents like this are not uncommon: a rock fall on Anniversary Day damaged the Waitakere Raw Watermain, another just prior to Christmas 2013 led to the temporary closure of Exhibition Drive to enable the removal of unstable overhanging rocks.
A number of Watercare’s assets are situated in areas with considerable heritage, recreational and other amenity values.
While we want to give the public every opportunity to enjoy the benefit of these, we need to balance that intention against public health and safety, environmental and operational considerations, and against our responsibilities as landowner.
No final decision has yet been made regarding the long-term future of the Rainforest Express; however, any decision will need to take into account our increased understanding of the significant geotechnical risks entailed in resuming this service, as well as the benefits.