The Midland Line. New Zealand’s Trans-Alpine Railway by Geoffrey B. Churchman. Acclaimed for years as one of the great railways journeys of the World, the Midland Line linking Canterbury with Westland through the Southern Alps is a tale of perseverance and adventure. In New Zealand’s sparsely populated colonial days of the 1870s and 1880s, the early settlers battled to have a line built, but after setback upon setback from politicians, organised a company to build the line themselves. The Midland Railway Company however, faced with enormous costs involved in forging through the Alps, likewise failed. Another three decades followed before the line was completed including the famous 8.6km Otira tunnel.