Freight trains back on track

Marlborough Express - - NEWS - PIPPA BROWN AND JAMIE SMALL

Hun­dreds of peo­ple turned out in Kaiko¯ura on Fri­day morn­ing to wel­come the first freight train since Novem­ber’s 7.8-mag­ni­tude earth­quake.

Paul Fos­kett drove the train from Pic­ton. He also drove a train to Kaiko¯ura on the night of the earth­quake, but was not on the lo­co­mo­tive when the earth­quake hit.

‘‘Ten months ago mother na­ture de­cided to show us who was boss,’’ he said.

‘‘Driv­ing this loco into Kaiko¯ura to­day from Pic­ton, I can­not be­lieve how much work has been done.’’

He said he was sure his trip on Novem­ber 14 last year would be his last on the Main North Line. ‘‘How wrong was I?’’ Kaiko¯ura res­i­dent Mar­garet Wood­ill said she walked from her house on the penin­sula to see the train sta­tion open in 1945 when she was 15 years old. ‘‘It’s still ex­cit­ing, to see it back.’’

Wood­ill said she was look­ing for­ward to the pas­sen­ger ser­vice com­ing on track.

A sculp­ture made by Kaiko¯ura artist Ben Fos­ter, us­ing rail­way iron sal­vaged from the north­ern line, was un­veiled at Fri­day morn­ing’s cer­e­mony.

The two pieces of track twisted to­gether, with Kaiko¯ura coast pla­ce­names in­scribed on the front, was ‘‘op­ti­misti­cally reach­ing to­wards the sky’’, Fos­ter said.

‘‘I couldn’t be­lieve my luck when I found this piece with this beau­ti­ful twist in it,’’ he said.

‘‘I hope that this work will re­mind us to some ex­tent of what we went through.’’

Fos­ter said the restora­tion of the train line was a ‘‘mo­men­tous oc­ca­sion’’. ‘‘We are not stronger than mother na­ture . . . but what we see here to­day is a tes­ta­ment to hu­man willpower.’’

Prime Min­is­ter Bill English planned to be at the cer­e­mony, but was held up by bad weather in Welling­ton.

Kaiko¯ura MP Stu­art Smith read a state­ment on English’s be­half.

‘‘On be­half of the Gov­ern­ment I want to thank each and ev­ery one of you for you hard work in of­ten try­ing con­di­tions.’’

He said he was im­pressed with Kaiko¯ura’s ’’re­silience and de­ter­mi­na­tion’’.

‘‘If I may quote Churchill, ‘This is not the be­gin­ning of the end but it is the end of the be­gin­ning’.’’

Kaiko¯ura Mayor Winston Gray also quoted Churchill in his speech: ‘‘’When the go­ing gets tough, keep go­ing.’ And that’s what’s hap­pened in Kaiko¯ura since Novem­ber.’’

He said the town had wel­comed the hun­dreds of work­ers who came to re­build the high­ways and rail- way north and south of Kaiko¯ura.

‘‘Kaiko¯ura was re­ally built on the road and rail work­ers.’’

Gray said work­ers had re­moved a mil­lion cu­bic me­tres of ma­te­rial, re­paired 59 bridges and worked on 20 tun­nels.


A new sculp­ture by Kaiko¯ura artist Ben Fos­ter was un­veiled at the Kaik­oura Rail­way Sta­tion on Fri­day morn­ing, as the first freight train to run since the earth­quake last year made its way from Pic­ton to Christchurch.

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