22 Oct 2019

Rail line, highway still closed after West Coast landslide

5:55 am on 22 October 2019

Part of State Highway 7 and a rail line remain closed due to a large slip just outside Greymouth, which continues to show signs of ongoing instability.

Landslide at Omoto on the West Coast SH7

The landslide at Omoto on SH7. Photo: Supplied / NZTA

Heavy rain and high river levels on Friday worsened a landslide at Omoto, between Greymouth and Stillwater, which has undermined the road and rail line.

It closed SH7 between Stillwater and Greymouth forcing motorists to take a detour via Stillwater Bridge, Taylorville, SH6, and Cobden Bridge. The road had re-opened only last week after a two-week closure while the slip was cleared.

The slip has also stopped trains running to and from Greymouth, and is causing havoc for residents and some businesses who are blocked off from one of the main routes into the West Coast town. Motorists also have to use an alternative route north of the Grey River.

Among the isolated businesses is a local petrol station who told RNZ their revenue has taken a hit due to motorists taking a detour.

The Paparoa Range School said eight students who usually took a bus were having to rely on a school van to reach them.

KiwiRail said coal services were still operating as normal via Stillwater, but dairy and other produce was having to be taken by road, via the current detour.

South Island operations manager Jeanine Benson said they hoped to have the rail line at Omoto open later this week.

Ms Benson said the TranzAlpine tourist train was still running between Christchurch and Arthur's Pass and buses were taking passengers between there and Greymouth.

The Transport Agency is warning people not to walk near or over the slip which is still on the move.

Moira Whinham of the Transport Agency said the landslide, which moved a further two and a half metres on Friday night, continued to move during the weekend.

She has warned people filming at the site they are putting themselves in danger given its instability and liability to move suddenly.

Ms Whinham said geotechnical advisors are now studying the slip.

The next update on the road is due on by 10am tomorrow, the Transport Agency said.