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NZ safety body slams Midland line

<p>Toll New Zealand has brushed off robust criticism of its midland railway line between the West Coast and Lyttleton as being out of date.</p> <p>A report commissioned for New Zealand’s Land Transport Safety Authority said the line, commonly known as the coal route, was unlikely to be fit for purpose in two years.</p> <p>"The overall conclusion of the report is that that while the coal route is currently fit for the tonnage it is carrying, a combination of factors make it unlikely that it will remain fit for purpose beyond the immediate future," the authority said.</p> <p>"The report identifies the need for a significant amount of maintenance and renewal work in order to keep the line operating safely at current levels.</p> <p>"If the coal tonnage increases, there will need to be a corresponding increase investment in the line."</p> <p>But Toll New Zealand said many of the recommended works had already been carried out or was well under way.</p> <p>"Taking into account that it is a year ago that the review was undertaken, it is important to note there is a lot of work already completed and there is only eight kilometres of continuous welded rail work left to go on the Midland Line," Toll New Zealand’s CEO, David Jackson, said.</p> <p>Mr Jackson said he was surprised that issues over maintenance program for the Otira Tunnel had been raised.</p> <p>"This has been in place for sometime prior to the review, with regular shutdowns occurring so work could be carried out," he said. </p> <p>The route carries about 2m tonnes of coal a year, but power firm Solid Energy has plans to double that in the next few years.</p> <br />