KiwiRail willing to go ugly to win Picton – Christchurch rebuild battle

2 MinutesBy NZ Trucking magazineMay 12, 2017

Photo: The temporary replacement for Bridge 131.

Speed is coming before beauty as KiwiRail forges ahead with its reconstruction of the Main North Line.

KiwiRail‘s group general manager of network services Todd Moyle said they were making great progress.

“Not every element will be pretty, but it will be safe and we‘re doing it fast. Working with the road and rail rebuild alliance NCTIR, we‘re confident we will meet or better the target of having freight services running between Picton and Christchurch by the end of the year.”

The line between Picton and Christchurch is a vital link in New Zealand‘s transport supply network, and crucial for moving freight between the North and South islands.

Before the earthquake, more than 1 million tonnes of freight was moved on the line each year. Moyle said that in reopening the railway, safety was non-negotiable, but after that KiwiRail wanted to get the freight trains back running as fast as possible.

“About 40% of the damaged sites are now fully repaired and ready to go. We‘re working hard on the other sites and, despite the recent bad weather, we‘re getting the work done.”

Moyle says an example of KiwiRail‘s ‘ugly but fast‘ approach is Bridge 131, near Wharanui north of Kaikoura, where the bridge was so badly damaged during the earthquake that it needed to be replaced. Rather than delay the reopening of the line while a permanent replacement was built, KiwiRail have installed a temporary bridge that used steel spans they already had available.

“It doesn‘t look pretty – and the graffiti doesn‘t help with that – but it works and gives us a safe and speedy solution to getting the trains running again. We know how important it is for New Zealand to get the freight flowing again on this line.”