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May–December 2018 – milestones achieved


Rail – Coastal Pacific reconnects Picton and Christchurch

Friday 23 November 2018 marked a very special milestone in the rebuild, when passengers travelled on the rail line between Picton and Christchurch for the first time since the earthquake.

KiwiRail’s beloved Coastal Pacific service, which travels along the Main North Line between Picton and Christchurch, had to be put on hold for two years following the earthquake.

A favourite among both passengers and staff, its return was significant for the Kaikoura region and its recovering tourism industry.

Before the earthquake, the Coastal Pacific brought about 42,000 passengers a year into Marlborough and Kaikoura, where they spent an estimated $34 million and supported around 300 local jobs.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, tourism chiefs, workers, iwi and Kaikoura locals were among those on-board the special commemorative service, which celebrated an incredible rail rebuild effort not seen since World War II.

Parititahi road tunnels reopened to two-way traffic

The 21 December 2018 re-opening of both Parititahi Tunnels in time for the holiday traffic was cause for celebration.

The inland tunnel was completely buried by a landslide and both tunnels required repairs. Along with those repairs, the twin tunnels required widening to accommodate larger freight vehicles which will help to make SH1 a more efficient freight route.

SH1 – Ōhau Point safe stopping area opened

Ōhau Point – 18 October 2018On 18 October 2018, the new Ōhau Point safe stopping area opened, ahead of Labour Weekend.

Ōhau Point is the first in a series of new safe stopping areas to be completed along SH1 as part of the Government’s $231 million package of works designed to improve safety, resilience, access and journey reliability between Clarence and Oaro.

The Ōhau Point safe stopping area, with space for 20 cars, provides the local community and visitors with a safe place to stop and take a break while viewing the outstanding coastline and the famous home of Ōhau’s protected fur seals.

Ōhau Point was one of the areas most damaged by the earthquake. The land was pushed up by seven metres. After investigating rebuild options for SH1 such as a tunnel and a bridge, the road was rebuilt out towards the sea on new terrain protected by a seawall. This option was chosen as the most appropriate as it includes protection from future seismic activity and major weather events.

It was an incredible feat of engineering to get to this stage less than two years after the earthquake.

Raramai road tunnels reopened to two-way traffic

On 19 October 2018, both Raramai road tunnels opened for traffic in both directions, in time for Labour Weekend.

Raramai road tunnels

Rail – 24/7 freight trains

On 1 October 2018 the first daytime freight trains in almost two years ran again between Blenheim and Christchurch.

Freight trains had only been running at night so repair work could continue for both the road and rail line during the day.  The return to 24/7 operations followed completion of critical works along the line and has enabled KiwiRail to better meet customers’ needs.