Slip Halts Rail, Road For Days


A major 100 metre long slip 15k south of Kaikoura is now causing more difficulties for rail  and roading in the quake-hit south and no one knows how long it will take to clear it.

KiwiRail has announced the TranzCoastal passenger train service is cancelled and a bus replacement cannot be provided.

The slip has blocked the railway line between Christchurch and Picton, which runs through Kaikoura, and also State Highway 1 which runs alongside.

KiwiRail says cancelling the service until the slip is cleared was its only realistic option.

NZTA Canterbury State Highways Operations Manager Peter Connors says the challenges around clearing the 100 metre long slip from what is a difficult site make it hard to say at this stage exactly when the highway can be used again. The possibility that the slip was caused by earthquakes is not being ruled out.

As the road is closed as well, KiwiRail can’t run a coach replacement and hope to keep even remotely to timetable or meet the Interislander ferry.

The only alternative route for coaches, via the Lewis Pass and Wairau Valley, would almost double the journey time and miss out most stops along the route.

Deborah Hume of KiwiRail said: ”We are working with NZTA and other transport providers to see when the service will be up and running again, which may take several days. We will make an announcement about resumption of the service as soon as we can. In the meantime we are contacting all the passengers we can to offer alternative dates or a refund on their fare.”

The TranzAlpine, which runs daily between Christchurch and Greymouth, is unaffected.

Passengers wishing to check the status of the TranzCoastal should call 0800 872468. The number is staffed 7am to 7pm both weekdays and weekends.

NZTA’s Peter Connors says the NZTA realises the importance of getting this key route open quickly, but that cannot occur until we are confident there is no risk to road users.”

He says having contractors working through the night is not an option because of the demanding the terrain and the stability of the slip. It is too early to estimate the cost of clearing the slip and restoring the highway.

Mr Connors added that because of the detours that are in place road users should allow extra time for their trip.

A detour is available for light traffic on Route 70 - the inland Kaikoura route. However, heavy vehicles must use SH63 Wairau Valley and SH7 the Lewis Pass to travel south to Christchurch and beyond.

  • All main urban arterial roads in Christchurch are open, except those in the CBD under threat from damaged buildings or debris.
  • Local roads are being surveyed. Bridges and roads are being repaired throughout the area. An accurate picture of costs is expected in coming weeks.
  • Christchurch International Airport is fully operational, with terminal buildings are certified completely safe.
  • Lyttleton Port is fully operational.

The State Highway 1- Chaney’s on-ramp just north of Christchurch will re-open early next week after being damaged in last Saturdays big earthquake.

NZTA says repairs to the on-ramp have gone well and it should be ready to use by Monday.

NZTA Canterbury State Highways Operations Manager Peter Connors says SH74 remains closed from the intersection of Dyers Road/Bridge Street to Metro Place until further notice. This is so the Christchurch City Council can replace damaged pipes across the highway affecting the operation of the waste water treatment plant - a detour for this section of SH74 is via Breezes, Cuthbert’s and Maces Roads can be used by all traffic.

The SH74 Heathcote underpass also remains closed due to potential rock fall hazards above the road. A permanent repair is underway but could take up to a week to complete.

Mr Connors also reminded motorists that the Lyttelton Tunnel will be periodically closed to traffic in the days ahead. This is to allow for the safe passage of fuel and gas trucks through the tunnel. Delays of up to ten minutes can be expected during the closures.

Vehicles carrying dangerous goods are normally prohibited from using the tunnel, but earthquake damage has forced the closure of the Evans Pass Road, the normal access route for fuel and gas trucks to and from the port.

Mr Connors said fuel and gas trucks will be allowed through the tunnel under the supervision of Tunnel Control - i.e. one truck at a time with no other vehicles in the tunnel. Lighter vehicles carrying dangerous goods that can traverse the alternate Dyers Pass route between the city and the port will be required to use this route and will not be given access to the tunnel.

Temporary closures will be used as needed to allow the safe passage of fuel and gas trucks, but in order to minimise disruptions for motorists no closures will be enacted from 7am-9am, 12pm-1pm or 4pm-6pm.

Other state highways in the region currently affected by earthquake damage include:

State Highway 77 in mid-Canterbury is open with a two kilometre sign posted detour from Glentunnel to Glenroy, where there is substantial subsidence in the road. The slip is still moving and this detour will remain for some time with permanent repairs to commence early next week.

Civil Defence Director John Hamilton says agencies in the Canterbury region are continuing to restore services gradually.
The region continues to experience aftershocks though the frequency is declining. “While progress is being made on restoring services, the pace of restoration is slowing because remaining outages is taking longer to fix,” said Mr Hamilton.

“Welfare centres are continuing to support people in need with 231 people being accommodated in the Christchurch city welfare centres overnight. The emphasis is now on assessing the needs of affected people.

“Additional building inspectors, public information officers, welfare officers and emergency operation centre staff are providing support in the affected areas.”

The cordon in the Christchurch CBD has been lifted but some restrictions remain to ensure safety and clean-up work can go ahead.

By 9.00am today the 0800 Government helpline (0800 779 997) had received almost 10,000 calls, with calls continuing to focus on damage to property, employment subsidies and food grants.

Local State of Emergency declarations remain in place in Christchurch city, Selwyn District and Waimakiriri District.





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