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Rail links north from Timaru remain severed over a week after persistent rain caused heavy flooding in a number of South Canterbury rivers.
KiwiRail said its bridges across the Temuka and Orari rivers and Coopers Creek were damaged in the flooding and repair work was underway.
"Staff are working to re-open the line as quickly as possible, and there are no delays to the repair work," Mark Heissenbuttel, Kiwirail’s general manager South Island Operation, said.
KiwiRail hopes to have the line open later this week with repairs to the Orari railway bridge starting on Wednesday.
The most northern of the three damaged bridges - Cooper's Creek - is only eight kilometres south of the 350-metre section of the line at Rangitata that was washed out in the December 2019 floods and cost $1 million to reinstate.
Heissenbuttel, when asked to compare the 2019 and 2021 events, said "the 2019 floods were more localised, and in 2021 the damage is spread across a wider area".
With rail links out of action, businesses have been looking to utilise roads, to the north and south, that were also affected by the weather event.
The flood-damaged rail bridge across Cooper’s Creek.
Hilton Haulage's chief executive Scott Crampton said they were doing their best to deal with the “additional volume” and to meet the clients demands, but there has been no serious logistical issues.
Wendy Smith, chief executive for the South Canterbury Chamber of Commerce said the railway line closure had caused “major logistical issues” and stock had to be moved onto trucks for transport.
Nigel Davenport, Venture Timaru's chief executive, said the recent flood highlighted the need for more robust and fit for purpose transportation links.
Repairs to the rail bridge over the Orari River got under way on June 9, 2021, as part of the work to re-open the line between Timaru and Ashburton
"As (Timaru District) Mayor (Nigel) Bowen recently stated, South Canterbury is a significant contributor to national GDP and as such it is absolutely critical we are able to get our raw materials and supplies in, and then our finished products out to national and global markets, with as minimal interruptions as possible.
"Having roading and rail networks effected to the extent they were is far from ideal and we need a genuine and urgent commitment from all key parties to improve resiliency – starting with Central Government.
"Road, rail, sea and air are all parts of this resiliency solution and we strongly believe the establishment of a coastal shipping service needs to be an integral part of these such discussions.
This article first appeared on www.stuff.co.nz
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