Saturday 24th Jun, 2017

First train since earthquake arrives in Kaikoura

Photo: Kiwirail
Photo: Kiwirail

Further progress has been made in repairing the Main North Line, after the arrival of the first work train at Kaikoura from Oaro in south since last year’s earthquake.

New Zealand’s transport minister Simon Bridges said that the arrival of the train earlier this month marked significant milestone in the process of getting the line up and running again.

“The train’s arrival demonstrates the progress that KiwiRail is making to restore this vital part of New Zealand’s freight network,” the minister said.

“The train, carrying a load of rail and sleepers, will help progress KiwiRail’s rebuild and will be used to replace buried and damaged track.”

The establishment of this connection from Oaro to Kaikoura, Bridges said, will be a key part of eventually reopening the line.

“Being able to get trains to Kaikoura means resources can now be positioned in Kaikoura, allowing work trains to operate in the north, south and middle sections of the Main North Line.”

Trains will therefore be able to carry materials to help repair work on the rail line and for the reinstatement of State Highway 1, which was also heavily damaged in the earthquake.

Despite the progress that the arrival of the train signals, much work still needs to be done. The tunnel at Kaikoura remains damaged, and the work train had to be pushed through the tunnel and pulled out from the other end.

The Main North Line is a major supply link for New Zealand’s freight services and its reinstatement is considered vital for the economy.

“Before the quake struck KiwiRail was shifting a million tonnes of freight a year over the line. They are working hard to fully reopen this important freight connection as soon as possible,” he said.

“The government’s priority is to restore the pre-earthquake transport links to Kaikoura and its surrounding communities, and ensure these vital links are resilient for the long term.”