Earthquake severs New Zealand South Island main line

By Keith Fender

AN earthquake measuring 7.8 on the Richter scale struck the northern part of New Zealand’s South Island on November 14, wrecking the main Picton to Christchurch railway line and state highway one.

The stranded freight train north of Kaikoura, on the line from Picton to Christchurch, with two DXR locos leading. MARK MITCHELL/PRESS ASSOCIATION

A Kiwi Rail freight train that was on its way from Picton to Christchurch was trapped between landslips in Mangamaunu, about 10km north of Kaikoura.

The driver was unhurt but had to be rescued by helicopter.

Kiwi Rail later moved the train a short distance, storing the two DXR locos in a tunnel, and improving security after several looters broke into some of the containers. They were later arrested.

The ferry terminals at Wellington and Picton were damaged. Repairs at Wellington could take months, so the option of switching to Christchurch was under investigation.

With damage to the Picton to Christchurch so severe, it could be many months before the line is reopened.

Read more News and Features in December’s issue of The RM

Enjoy more of The Railway Magazine reading every month. Click here to subscribe.