Clearing Southern Rail Tunnel


A rail tunnel near Greymouth on the West Coast has been demolished as part of a programme to improve the reliability and capacity of the busy Midland Line.

The 90 metre tunnel near Kiwi Point is being ‘daylighted’, which involves both removing the tunnel roof and much of the hillside above.

To date, more than 50,000 cubic metres of earth has been removed from above the tunnel. A small blast brought the roof of the tunnel down and KiwiRail staff and contractors have been working around the clock to clear the site, ready for trains to run on the line again.

This section of line, usually carries the world renowned TranzAlpine service and up to 8 coal trains a day. TranzAlpine passengers have been travelling by bus between Moana and Greymouth.

KiwiRail Network General Manager Rick van Barneveld said that, once complete, the removal of the tunnel would improve the both the capacity and reliability of what was a key transport link between the West Coast and Christchurch and the Port of Lyttelton.

“There were tight clearances in this tunnel so daylighting it will enable KiwiRail to carry larger loads on this busy line. It will also remove the need for ongoing and costly maintenance on the tunnel, with the geology of the area having caused the tunnel lining to deteriorate since it was built in the 1880s,” Rick van Barneveld said.

The daylighting project started in February and is expected to be completed in the coming months. Rick van Barneveld said work has progressed well, despite the constraints of carrying out earthworks above both a busy railway line and State Highway.




  1. Jeremy Harris says:

    A lot the tunnels on the NAL could be easily improved by daylighting them…


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