Train driv­ers back on job af­ter quake

Otago Daily Times - - General - KURT BAYER

CHRISTCHURCH: The train driver trapped dur­ing the dev­as­tat­ing Kaik­oura earth­quake has spo­ken for the first time, driv­ing the first train into Christchurch yes­ter­day on the newly re­paired rail­way line.

Wayne Sul­li­van had just taken the con­trols of the Ki­wiRail train when the gi­ant mag­ni­tude­7.8 quake struck just af­ter mid­night on Novem­ber 14 last year.

He spot­ted dust fall­ing from a tun­nel he was about to enter north of Kaik­oura and hit the brakes.

‘‘It was pretty in­tense,’’ he said yes­ter­day, as he brought a train car­ry­ing goods from Pic­ton into Christchurch for the first time in 10 months. He was trapped overnight by the quake.

About 25 min­utes af­ter the quake struck, he es­caped up a hill­side, fear­ful of tsunamis.

Hav­ing moved to Christchurch in June 2011, the Aus­tralian­born train en­gi­neer had ex­pe­ri­enced quakes be­fore.

He had no sec­ond thoughts about get­ting be­hind the con­trols and was glad to drive into Christchurch yes­ter­day, which he said was a ‘‘sym­bol of how you could over­come th­ese things’’.

Fol­low­ing Novem­ber’s earth­quake, the rail­way was buried un­der more than 100 land­slips, about 60 bridges suf­fered dam­age and re­pairs were re­quired at more than 750 sites.

Yes­ter­day’s train was driven from Pic­ton to Kaik­oura by Ki­wiRail lo­co­mo­tive en­gi­neer Paul Fos­kett, who fin­ished his shift 15 min­utes be­fore the quake struck and had started driv­ing home to Blen­heim. His car was thrown across the road and he saw other cars driven into holes cre­ated by the quake. — NZME

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