Earthquake rules force decision on Ohakune Railway Station
The future of the earthquake prone Ohakune Railway Station building will be considered by the Waimarino-Waiouru Community Board (WWCB) at their next meeting on Thursday 5 July.
The Station building which was built in 1906 and is listed as a Heritage NZ Category 2 Historic Place has been assessed at being only 30% of the required New Building Standard (NBS) of which the minimum required standard is 33%.
As a non-priority building Council would have up to 25 years to earthquake strengthen the building and in the interim it can continue to be utilized for its current uses as offices, retail space and a public toilet.
Ruapehu Mayor Don Cameron said that while at the moment time may seem to be on our side at some point if the work isn’t done the Station building and platform will no longer be able to be used.
“Having functioning railway stations will be key to developing tourism rail services which is an important objective of the Ruapehu Regional Visitor Development Plan and growing regional visitor expenditure to $400m by 2028,” he said.
“As KiwiRail is the owner of the platform canopy they will need to be part of any solution.
Council has a good working relationship with KiwiRail and would be confident that they will want to see heritage assets such as the Station in use and enhancing the visitor experience as part of growing their rail tourism business.
To bring the Station up to a minimum 33% of NBS will require strengthening of the platform canopy and building chimneys along with re-piling of the building.
While there is only a 3% difference between the Station’s current NBS and the minimum required standard the cost of getting it to where it needs to be could be over $300,000.
Anyone who has ever renovated an historic building knows that there is often additional time and cost involved to do things in a certain way in order to retain the heritage values of the building.
In this case the current advice is that to re-pile the building we will need to move the station off site to access the ground works which would then require the chimneys to be dismantled then rebuilt.”
Mayor Cameron noted that if the WWCB recommends earthquake strengthening Council may consider whether the building would not be better off being owned by a Trust dedicated to its preservation.
“Council recognises that the community has strong feelings toward the Ohakune Railway Station building and feel that many people will want the earthquake strengthening work completed despite any potential cost.
The benefits of a Trust ownership is that it would enable access to funding sources not open to Council and provide an opportunity for interested people to be directly involved in looking after the Station’s future.”