The first freight services to run again on the rail line between Picton and Christchurch will begin on Friday, just 10 months after Kaikoura’s devastating earthquake.
“Getting freight rolling again on the quake-damaged line is a great result that has been made possible by world-class engineers and a team of New Zealanders from all over the country, working for KiwiRail and our partners in the North Canterbury Transport Infrastructure Recovery alliance,” KiwiRail Chief Executive Peter Reidy says.
“The first train from Picton to Christchurch will run during the day, but after that we will be running a limited, low-frequency service at night.
“That is so that the vital work of rebuilding the road, and further repairing the line, can continue.
“There is still a sizeable amount of work to be done before we return the line to its pre-quake state.”
Reidy says the return of freight services will be marked with celebrations in Christchurch and Kaikoura as the first train travels down the line.
“That is a measure of the importance of the rail line to our national network, especially for connecting the country for our customers. Before last year’s earthquake we were moving one million tonnes of freight a year on it.
“The limited re-opening will also take pressure off the inland alternate route, which has been the main route to shift freight south since the earthquake.
“Even with the restrictions that will be in place, we still expect that up to 2000 trucks a month will be taken off that road,” Reidy notes.