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West Coast to Christchurch line to be upgraded

West Coast

New Zealand will spend $13 million to upgrade the rail line between Christchurch and the West Coast.

The funding will go towards improving the resilience of the rail line, which was closed for over a month after a 100-metre slip at Omoto in October 2019. KiwiRail will conduct the upgrades, which will involve the installation of drainage and strengthening the hill side at Omoto.

NZ Infrastructure Minister Shane Jones said the project was critical to ensure resilient and reliable connections to the West Coast.

“The rail line to Greymouth brings more than 80,000 tourists into the region each year and gets the equivalent of 50,000 truckloads of exports to port. It’s a vital part of the regional economy.”

Regional Economic Development Under-Secretary Fletcher Tabuteau said that the program would benefit the local economy during construction and once complete.

“The work at Omoto will also support about 20 local jobs. It’s important that the West Coast sees maximum benefit from government investment. Not only does the Omoto work give certainty for the future, KiwiRail is focussed on using West Coast civil contracting firms and suppliers to carry out the work wherever possible.”

KiwiRail group chief executive Greg Miller said he was delighted that funding had been secured.

“Everything we can do to make rail freight more reliable helps New Zealand lower its emissions, helps make KiwiRail more sustainable, and reduces truck numbers on the country’s roads,’ he said.

“Every tonne of heavy freight delivered by rail results in 66 per cent fewer emissions than the equivalent freight being carried by road, so KiwiRail is working hard to encourage companies to make that shift.”

Horizontal drains between internal layers of hillside will remove water, and in-ground piles/retaining structure will tie the top sliding layer and the bottom layer of the hillside together.

Work is expected to be finished in 2021.