Sunday, September 26, 2010

Land Slips Continue To Disrupt Road And Rail Freight

Both New Zealand Islands Affected
Shipping News Feature

NEW ZEALAND – After our story earlier this month on the hardships endured in South Island in the wake of the earthquakes there were immediate disruptions the following day (15th September) when landslips on North Island in the Manawatu Gorge closed State Highway 3 to all traffic, including freight trucks. At that time the road was swiftly cleared and reopened within a few hours.

Now however the Gorge is closed to rail freight for the next two days at least after a further slip caused a train carrying a cargo of 400,000 litres of milk to derail yesterday (Saturday). The freight train was heading for Palmerston North from Hawkes Bay when upon rounding a bend the driver saw the blocked track. Despite efforts to stop in time the KiwiRail train ran into the earth slip, fortunately with no injuries to the crew. Another train also hit a slip at Taumarunui on Saturday morning, fortunately again with no injuries and no reports of major delays.

Further interruptions to cargo have occurred due to the persistent bad weather which closed State Highway 73 to high sided lorries and caravans when high winds threatened to overbalance tall vehicles and heavy snowfalls occurred in some mountain areas. The outlook however is good for the next few days with dire weather warnings lifted. Meanwhile the stricken milk locomotive remains stranded after the wagons were removed and towed via an alternative line to their destination and efforts to clear the earth fall using other trains continue whilst the main line at Kaikoura is due to open later today after almost two weeks following the massive landslip there.