Train drivers back on job after quake
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