Saturday 27th May, 2017

300 hectare fire damages, closes Christchurch-Greymouth line

KiwiRail's TranzAlpine. Photo: KiwiRail
KiwiRail's TranzAlpine. Photo: KiwiRail

KiwiRail has announced the Christchurch-Greymouth line between Cass and Springfield will be closed for as long as six weeks after it was damaged in a major bushfire.

The operator said this week the Midland train line from Christchurch to Greymouth would be out of action due to the fire which took place in a remote part of the South Island over the weekend.

Bridges, track and signal systems were all damaged in the blaze.

Affected services include the renowned TranzAlpine journey, plus coal and dairy freight services.

KiwiRail’s general manager of network services Todd Moyle said crews from around the country would be brought in to tackle the reinstatement of the line as quickly as possible.

“Hot and windy conditions at the weekend meant several of our bridges along the route were damaged, including one bridge where 12 wooden piles will need to be replaced,” Moyle said.

“We are still working through the quickest course of action to reinstate the line.

“Heat spots in the area remain a concern.

“We are very disappointed for the many international tourists who have travelled to New Zealand and will now miss out on the opportunity to enjoy our world renowned TranzAlpine service.”

Full refunds are being offered as well as short term bus services.

“We are also working closely with our freight customers on the fast reinstatement of the train services that move their goods,” he added.

Moyle was also confident the added work would not impact the rail rebuild happening across the island on the Main North Line, which is continuing towards a return to service after November’s Kaikoura earthquake.

“Fires like this can be devastating and we are thankful that no one was in danger at any stage,” he said.

“We are also grateful to the New Zealand Fire Service and the Department of Conservation for their amazing work over the weekend to bring this 300 hectare fire under control.”