First post-quake freight services announced

2 MinutesBy NZ Trucking magazineSeptember 6, 2017

The first freight services to run again on the rail line between Picton and Christchurch will begin on 15 September, 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,” says KiwiRail chief executive Peter Reidy.

“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.”

This will allow the vital work of rebuilding the road, and further repairing the line, to continue. Reidy says there is still a sizeable amount of work to be done before to return the line to its pre-quake state.

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 alternative route, which has been the main route to shift freight south since the earthquake.”

Reidy says even with the restrictions that will be in place, they still expect up to 2000 trucks a month will be taken off that road.