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Canterbury blaze damages rail line

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 4/02/2017

The blaze that's ripped through 300 hectares of conservation land in Canterbury has extensively damaged parts of the Midland rail line.

One bridge on the line is extensively damaged and there is damage to other bridges and viaducts, says Todd Moyle, the KiwiRail group general manager of network services.

Fire service crews supported by helicopters continued their efforts to extinguish the fire on Sunday, and a watching fire crew will be on site on Sunday night, he says.

"A full assessment of damage to the track will be carried out when it is safe for KiwiRail staff to access the site. There is no firm timing on that yet," he says.

The line, which is used by the TranzAlpine passenger train and freight trains, remains closed.

"Any repair work will be complicated by the difficulty of gaining access to the sites where the damage has occurred, adding time to the work," Mr Moyle says.

Westland Milk Products is one major customer affected but a spokesman told NZN the dairy co-operative was able to truck product from the West Coast to Christchurch.

The fire, between an area known as Staircase and Craigieburn, has torn through 300ha of scrub and alpine forests on public conservation land.

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