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Stranded Kaikoura locomotive removed

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 25/05/2017
A freight train sitting where it came to a halt beside Highway One north of Kaikoura is seen on November 14, 2016 in New Zealand. The 7.5 magnitude earthquake struck 20km south-east of Hanmer Springs at 12.02am and triggered tsunami warnings for many coastal areas. © Mark Mitchell/Getty Images A freight train sitting where it came to a halt beside Highway One north of Kaikoura is seen on November 14, 2016 in New Zealand. The 7.5 magnitude earthquake struck 20km south-east of Hanmer Springs at 12.02am and triggered tsunami warnings for many coastal areas.

The South Island train line closed by November's Kaikoura earthquake is inching closer to reopening after cranes began lifting two stranded locomotives off the tracks.

The two 102-tonne locomotives had been forced to halt in a tunnel near Hapuku, north of Kaikoura, on the morning of the November 14 quake and had been stranded on the line ever since.

The train's mix of supermarket supplies and car parts were removed in December, while its 23 wagons were lifted out and taken to Christchurch earlier this month.

KiwiRail group general manager Todd Moyle says the removal of the locomotives was an important step in the line's reopening.

"More than 40 per cent of the work needed to get freight moving again is now complete," he says.

"The Main North Line is an important part of our network and before the earthquake more than a million tonnes of freight was moving over the line each year."

On Thursday, the first of the locomotives was lifted off the lines and placed onto a 132-tyre transporter to be taken to Kaikoura.

The second locomotive will be placed onto a transporter on Friday.

KiwiRail Engineering Manager Peter Dautermann has described the task of removing the engines as a "massive job".

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