Tuesday, September 14, 2010

New Zealand Truck And Rail Freight Still Disrupted

Landslip May or May Not be a Result of Earthquake
Shipping News Feature

NEW ZEALAND – The earthquake measuring 7.1 which struck Canterbury on the 4th September was or was not the cause of the huge landslip which has closed road and rail links to and from Christchurch according to which local experts you listen to The general opinion is that the two are linked as there had not been recent rainfall in the area. All that is known is that on Saturday several freight trains carrying vital supplies were halted by the slip which also closed State Highway One, the regions major artery.

Attempts were being made today by Kiwi Rail to divert a small section of rail track around the slip in an effort to restore rail freight and passenger services. KiwiRail has arranged for some freight to be moved on a container shipping vessel from Auckland to Dunedin, from where it can be railed north to Christchurch. It is also continuing to move freight by road between Blenheim and Christchurch.

These alternative arrangements will remain in place until the line can be re-opened and trains able to run again. Snow is expected later which will further hamper traffic in the area as State Highway Seven is still the only route open for larger freight trucks shipping cargo locally whilst everyday car, truck and bus traffic is being re-routed via local roads South of Kaikoura.

Vehicles in excess of 22 tonnes are restricted to using the Lewis Pass, liable to see the worst of the weather later today, meaning up to a five hour delay on a round trip between Christchurch and Picton, a main source of supply which is situated on the Northern Eastern tip of South Island, at the head of Queen Charlotte Sound, and a major ferry link with Wellington.

For anyone who thinks that earthquakes are unusual in the country a quick look at the GeoNet site will notice there have been thirty quakes between 3.2 and 4.3 in the past two days and New Zealand readers can record any tremors they feel personally whilst on the site. Meantime cargo is accumulating in the intermodal terminals, particularly in Picton and attempts are being made to prioritise loads before shipping them by truck. Priority is being given to containers of fresh produce bound for wholesalers and retailers in Christchurch.

Photo: GeoNet staff monitoring landslide movement using continuous GPS (courtesy GeoNet).