Champagne and cookies from looted train litter southern rail corridor after earthquake

Railway bosses are warning people to keep off the quake-damaged southern main trunk line as goods pilfered from a deserted freight train lies strewn along tracks.

Expensive Champagne, packages of Christmas biscuits and car parts lie discarded along the rail corridor north of Kaikoura after the train was left stranded on the tracks by last Monday's 7.8 earthquake.

So far three men have been arrested for stealing a television, alcohol and motorbike from the stricken train last week. Police are trying to find more property.

Now KiwiRail has sounded a fresh caution for people to stay clear of the main trunk line saying looters and sightseers were putting their lives in danger.

KiwiRail group general manager of network services Todd Moyle said bridges, tunnels and tracks on the main north line had been significantly damaged by the quake and were unsafe.

"Anyone entering the rail corridor is putting themselves in serious danger," he said.

The main north line was closed to rail services, but work trains, tampers and hi-rail vehicles were operating on the line as part of the recovery.

He said even staff, who were familiar with the area, were not entering tunnels or crossing bridges without a safety plan and continuous monitoring.

"We strongly advise people refrain from entering any railway land. It is not only incredibly dangerous, but illegal under the Railways Act and trespassers can be fined," he said.

KiwiRail would not discuss what goods were on the train, citing commercial sensitivity.

When asked what security measures were being put in place for the train, a Kiwirail spokesperson said the train was stopped during the earthquake as a matter of process and the driver airlifted out of the area.

"The train remains in a remote and dangerous location where safety concerns for our staff, and the equipment that would be required to release the goods from the train, have prevented their wholesale removal.

"KiwiRail is working with local authorities including Civil Defence and the police on how to manage the situation and ways to secure the site. The goods remain the property of our customers and we are working with them on best way to recover them.

"It is profoundly disappointing to KiwiRail that some New Zealanders have looted the train during a natural disaster's aftermath."

- NZ Herald

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