KiwiRail welcomes commitment to rebuild rail

15 December 2016 10:10AM

KiwiRail will work to restore freight services for customers on the Main North Line from Picton to Christchurch as soon as possible with work beginning immediately, Chief Executive Peter Reidy says.

“Today’s announcement that the Government has committed to restoring road and rail services is welcome certainty for South Island communities and New Zealand’s freight movers.

“Our job now is to try to make that happen as quickly as possible, to keep New Zealand moving and help grow the economy.

“KiwiRail will look for temporary fixes in some parts of the line to allow for restricted, freight-only rail services in the first instance while the permanent road and rail lines are completed.

“This will ease pressure on SH7 and SH63, as the roads have struggled under the influx of freight trucks during the peak period.

“KiwiRail will use the latest technology in slip identification and movement to allow our train drivers to safely navigate areas while permanent repairs are made.

“While there will be time delays on the route once opened, it will offer a reliable, cost-effective service with fewer emissions for our customers while taking heavy vehicles off the roads. Every tonne of freight moved by rail delivers a 66% reduction in emissions for our customers, and the country.

 “KiwiRail’s Scenic Journey, the Coastal Pacific, will also return to the route though the timing is unclear at this stage. International tourists are increasingly attracted to New Zealand’s spectacular train journeys and this is an important plank of our tourism growth strategy,” Peter Reidy says.

KiwiRail’s teams of engineers have been analysing the damaged parts of the Main North Line since the Kaikoura earthquake hit last month and have detailed plans of where work will begin. The complexity of the job ahead means no date can yet be set for reopening the line, but work will begin at pace working in conjunction with NZTA.

“Safety is always our number one concern and so we won’t rush the necessary measures that need to be taken but we will be working intelligently at speed,” says Mr Reidy. “Even without any other unforeseen events, this is an enormous job. We have 21 tunnels, 80 bridges, and a lot of twisted or broken track to fix.”

For an interview with Peter Reidy please contact Communications and External Relations Manager Sarah Stuart: 021 684 564