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Speed before beauty in post-quake rail fix

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 11/05/2017

© Mark Mitchell - Pool/Getty Images About 40 per cent of earthquake-damaged sites on the Picton-Christchurch line are fully repaired and ready to go, KiwiRail says.

The state-owned enterprise is targeting speed over beauty as it continues the rebuild after the devastating Kaikoura quake last November.

Network services group general manager Todd Moyle is confident KiwiRail will meet or better the target of having freight services running between Picton and Christchurch by the end of the year.

"We're making great progress," he said.

"Not every element will be pretty, but it will be safe and we're doing it fast."

Mr Moyle said safety was non-negotiable in the reconstruction but after that, it was about getting the trains running again as quickly as possible.

An example of the "ugly but fast" approach was near Wharanui, north of Kaikoura, where Bridge 131 needed replacing.

"Rather than delay the reopening of the line while a permanent replacement is built, we decided on a temporary bridge that used steel spans we already had available," Mr Moyle said.

"It doesn't look pretty - and the graffiti doesn't help - but it works and gives us a safe and speedy solution."

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