Passengers will travel again today on the rail line between Picton and Christchurch - the first time since it was devastated by the Kaikoura earthquake two years ago.
A special commemorative train leaves Picton at 8am today with Government VIPs, tourism chiefs, workers, iwi and Kaikoura locals celebrating what KiwiRail’s Acting Chief Executive Todd Moyle says is an incredible rebuild effort not seen since World War II.
“This is a real testament to the 1700 workers who have put the rail and road back together again, connecting communities and bringing tourists back to the Coast.
“Re-opening of the line for passengers is critical to regional economies and is part of KiwiRail’s purpose to create stronger connections for a better New Zealand.
“Before the Kaikoura earthquake the Coastal Pacific brought about 42,000 passengers a year into Marlborough and Kaikoura alone.
“These passengers were estimated to spend $34m across the two regions, supporting about 300 local jobs.
“It has been a massive task getting the line ready to carry passengers again after the earthquake just over two years ago.
“I cannot praise highly enough those who made that possible, and it is fitting that members of the workforce that put the line back together will be on today’s special journey.
“KiwiRail, along with NZTA and other partners in the North Canterbury Transport Infrastructure Recovery Alliance (NCTIR), had the line re-open for night-time freight services after just 10 months of work, allowing the rebuild to continue during daylight hours.
“In October freight services began running both day and night
. “Today’s passenger trip is a return to full operations for the line. We will now be open for business 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” Mr Moyle says.
The Coastal Pacific travels along the coastline north of Claverly.