TranzAlpine resumes tunnel transit

15 November 2013 4:04PM

Fire suppressant equipment has now been installed on all the locomotives used to haul the TranzAlpine says KiwiRail’s Chief Executive Jim Quinn.

“In July we decided as a precautionary measure to temporarily bus transfer passengers for the 14kms between Arthurs Pass and Otira in both directions, rather than going through the Otira tunnel by train,” he says. 

Mr Quinn says  “After consultation with the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) and the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) High Hazards Unit (HHU), KiwiRail made the decision to install engine bay fire suppression to provide an additional level of fire protection on all locomotives allocated to haul the TranzAlpine through Otira.” 

Mr Quinn says fire suppression equipment has been added to the fire detection and fuel isolation system fitted to all locomotives for use on the TranzAlpine service.  “A fire suppressed rescue locomotive (or locomotives) will also be attached to the rear of the train when it travels through the tunnel. The likelihood of a fire occurring in Otira Tunnel is very low.  However, KiwiRail decided to take preventative action to minimise any possible risk to our passengers.” 

He says,  “We have worked closely with our regulator to ensure that our emergency management procedures have been updated to reflect the latest industry standards for tunnel safety.”  

The TranzAlpine will resume its traditional route through the Otira Tunnel on Saturday 16th November.
Issued by KiwiRail (Contact: Sarah Pomeroy, Senior Communications Advisor, KiwiRail
(04) 498 3383 or (027) 021 804 906