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The November earthquake severed transport routes in two.
Both road and rail were destroyed, with trucks on the alternate inland highway left as the last link for goods to get across the South Island.
Rail freight will return some normality next week, but a Marlborough truck driver believes the transport sector should be given more recognition for its work.
Refrigerated truck driver Michael Bown said drivers had gone above and beyond the call of duty over the past 10 months.
"Since the earthquake, trucks have held the country together," he said.
Freight will run at night so work on the road and rail corridor can continue.
"I believe the guys and girls need to be recognised for what they've done following the earthquake."
Some drivers came out of retirement to fill shortages to make sure freight arrived, Bown said.
The inland route, between Blenheim and Christchurch on SH7, 65, 6, and 63, added three hours to the journey between the two centres.
KiwiRail chief executive Peter Reidy.
Truck traffic increased significantly following the disaster, as places like St Arnaud increased from 40 daily pre-quake to 400 daily post-quake.
The return of rail freight was expected ease traffic on the route with the removal of up to 2000 trucks a month.
While Bown said the removal of container trucks would be a good thing, he noted the public should be more appreciative of the job drivers had done.
The first freight services to run again on the rail line between Picton and Christchurch would begin on September 15.
KiwiRail chief executive Peter Reidy announced on Wednesday the first train would run during the day, with the rest on a limited, low-frequency service at night.
"That is so that the vital work of rebuilding the road, and further repairing the line, can continue," he said.
"There is still a sizeable amount of work to be done before we return the line to its pre-quake state."
Last November's earthquake caused major damage to about 60 sites along the rail line, including tunnels, bridges and embankments.
After the earthquake more than 100 slips and landslides buried the line, while about 60 bridges were damaged.
Repairing the "devastating blow to the network" was a mammoth task and one of the biggest rail rebuilds in New Zealand since World War II, Reidy said last month.
- The Marlborough Express
This article first appeared on www.stuff.co.nz
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