Passenger train service returns after Kaikōura quake - Kogonuso

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Nov 22, 2018

Passenger train service returns after Kaikōura quake

Passengers can now travel on the Coastal Pacific between Picton and Christchurch for the first time in two years.

A special commemorative train left Picton at 8am today, marking a return to full operations two years after the tracks were destroyed by the Kaikōura earthquake.

Freight train services began running again in September last year, and now - from 1 December - passenger services will also operate daily.

KiwiRail acting chief executive Todd Moyle told Morning Report it had been a significant task to get the line back up and running.

"I flew over a couple of days after the earthquake and just had no idea where you would start from," Mr Moyle said.

"So we've had to bring in some of New Zealand's top engineering experts and formed the NCTIR Alliance and they've been the ones that have tackled this and done an absolutely outstanding job."

The service had been critical to service the community and boost the economy, he said.

"Prior to the earthquake we bought 42,000 passengers down that line and the community's benefited in the region of $34 million from the associated activities to it, so it's really important to that community.

"There's about 300 jobs associated with those tourism activities as well, so we're really keen to bring it back on board and start bringing those high-value tourists back into the community."

Nearly 1700 workers have helped repair the road and railway line along the coast.

Mr Moyle said it cost about $400 million to replace and repair a third of 350km line from Picton to Christchurch.

This morning's special train will have government representatives, including the prime minister, tourism chiefs, workers, iwi and Kaikōura locals on board.
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