Ki­wiRail bat­tles to clear Kaik­oura slips

Marlborough Express - - NEWS - CHRIS HUTCHING

Ki­wiRail said work teams were try­ing to clear the Kaik­oura main north line as quickly as pos­si­ble after huge slips closed the high­way and rail­way be­tween Pic­ton and Christchurch.

But it was un­likely trains would be run­ning next week, and mean­time, op­er­at­ing hours at the Blen­heim freight hub would be ex­tended to sup­port trans­port of freight by trucks through the cen- tral South Is­land, main north line project di­rec­tor Wal­ter Rush­brook said.

Road Trans­port As­so­ci­a­tion chief ex­ec­u­tive Den­nis Robert­son said trucks were again re­stricted to us­ing the cen­tral South Is­land Lewis Pass route, and en­coun­ter­ing de­lays due to road re­pairs there too.

Robert­son said the Kaik­oura rail line had only been op­er­at­ing since last Oc­to­ber so there had not been much of a switch of freight from trucks to rail, which was more suited to con­tain­ers and bulk freight.

Most truck­ing firms had con­tin­ued to use the Lewis Pass route be­cause of con­tracts with cus­tomers and de­lays and un­re­li­a­bil­ity of the Kaik­oura route.

Robert­son ac­knowl­edged the enor­mous ef­forts by NZTA con­trac­tors and Ki­wiRail to re­open the Kaik­oura link late last year, and again this week

About 300,000 cu­bic me­tres of ma­te­rial was spread across 60 sites from Par­nas­sus to Clarence dur­ing Cy­clone Gita.

Ki­wiRail re­mains un­der fi­nan­cial pres­sure. Its half-year loss of $193m re­ported this week in­cluded an im­pair­ment of $190m re­lat­ing to its rail as­sets. The rail net­work does not gen­er­ate suf­fi­cient cash­flows to cover the level of re­quired in­vest­ment and a large pro­por­tion of their value must be writ­ten off each re­port­ing pe­riod.

Ki­wiRail trans­ports about 25 per cent of the coun­try’s ex­ports and sup­ports tourism.

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