The 6.0 magnitude quake which struck about 30km West of Arthur’s Pass yesterday resulted in all trains from there to Oamaru being cancelled for about six hours.
Two services which use the line from Oamaru to Christchurch were cancelled, but were allowed to resume their service about 1pm, after the main south line between the two centres was cleared of any damage.
The stretch of track was closed for about six hours.
At about 6:48am this morning the quake struck and shortly after all railway lines were closed.
KiwiRail communications advisor Becs Saxton said they were hoping they could re-open the tracks quickly.
“Hopefully we will be able to get them back open today (Tuesday), but it largely depends on whether or not there was damage to any of the railway lines,” she said.
When the tracks re-open again is uncertain, but Mrs Saxton said work was in place to make sure trains weren’t held up for too long.
Tracks from the West Coast to Oamaru have been closed and groups of KiwiRail engineers headed around the Central South Island assessing all the tracks.
Mrs Saxton said KiwiRail expected the tracks to be ok.
“We are confident the tracks will be fine, but as a precaution we closed them because we’d hate for a train to strike damage because we hadn’t checked them.”
The whole line from Oamaru to Christchurch is being checked for damage or loose rocks that may have forced their way on to the track.
Yesterday mornings quake was the second biggest to have hit the region since the one which struck in February 2011.
The initial shake was followed by a swarm of more than 20 aftershocks which took place near-by with a magnitude from 3.2 to 4.2, centred near Arthurs Pass.
Geonet duty seismologist John Ristau said there is a chance more significant aftershocks ranging from about magnitude 5 or more could strike today.
By Brayden Lindsay