The re connection of the line offers hope and recovery for Canterbury residents after the Kaikoura earthquakes, and demonstrates the resilience of New Zealanders.
Today’s welding of the line, linking up the railway between Picton and Christchurch is a huge milestone nine months after the November 14 earthquake and a credit to the more than 1500 people involved in the project KiwiRail Chief Executive Peter Reidy says. “Our world-class engineers and a team of New Zealanders from all over the country, working for KiwiRail, NZTA and other contractors in the North Canterbury Transport Infrastructure Recovery alliance, have made this happen, and it is all of New Zealand who will benefit.
“Over the whole project – road and rail – an average of 150,000 person hours are being worked each month.
“On the rail side 150 kilometres of line has been tamped and made ready for trains. Five thousand new concrete sleepers have been laid, the formation under 12 km of track has been rebuilt, and 5km of track has been realigned.
“The progress we have made to date is also due to the local community and the goodwill they have shown. The support of the people of Kaikoura, and the others up and down the line, for the rebuild has made our work easier.
“This has been a mighty effort, and the reward is that the track should open to freight within a month, well ahead of schedule.
“The initial opening is a restricted one, with low-speed, low-frequency services, and a sizeable amount of work remains to return the line to its pre-quake state.
“Freight services will initially run at night so that work on the rail and road networks can continue during the day.
“The line is an important part of our network, especially for connecting the country for our customers.
“It will also take pressure off the alternate road, which has been the main route to shift freight south since the earthquake.
“Even with the restrictions that will be in place, we still expect that up to 2000 trucks a month could be taken off the roads,” Mr Reidy says.
Rangiora residents can now expect within a month more trains coming through Rangiora, and less trucks on the motorway.
For a while the railways have been disused, and have been suffering with some rust and degradation as a result, with some routine use of the track by Kiwirail.
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