The first daytime freight trains in almost two years will be running again between Blenheim and Christchurch from next week, marking a milestone in the rebuild effort following the Kaikoura earthquake.
“For the past 13 months, we have run freight trains only at night so repair work could continue for both the road and rail line during the day,” says KiwiRail’s Acting Chief Executive Todd Moyle.
“Even though we have only offered a restricted service since we reopened the line in September 2017, we have had strong support from customers and have moved more than 480,000 tonnes of freight.
“That has meant at least 34,000 fewer trucks travelling on the earthquake-damaged roads or smaller inland roads during that time.
“KiwiRail teams and our partners at the North Canterbury Transport Infrastructure Recovery (NCTIR) agency have been making fantastic progress on repairs to the Main North Line over the past few months. This has meant a very reliable service for our freight customers through the winter months despite some significant weather events.
“Running trains again both day and night means we will be better able to meet our customers’ needs as we move into the busiest period for freight.
“At the beginning of December we reach another big milestone with the return of our well-loved Great Journeys of New Zealand Coastal Pacific service from Christchurch to Picton. We’ve been getting a lot of interest and strong bookings for this award-winning scenic rail journey and already have days completely sold out months before we begin.
“As we move to day time train services people should remember to always expect trains at any time and from either direction.
“While there have been some work trains and other rail vehicles using the line during the day, we are conscious that many people who regularly use level crossings along the line may have become used to the lighter levels of rail activity and need to be aware of this change.
“As the rail line will now be busier during the day, we urge everyone to always obey the signs and signals and look both ways before crossing railway tracks,” Mr Moyle says.