NCTIR Alliance: Moving Mountains to Reconnect Communities

by | Apr 13, 2022 | Blog, Case Studies

Download the full case study (PDF) here

The North Canterbury Transport Infrastructure Recover (NCTIR) was an alliance formed by Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency and KiwiRail. The collective objective was to restore the road & rail network and reconnect cut-off communities following the 7.8 magnitude Kaikoura earthquake in 2016.

The project received international industry acclaim, being awarded with twelve industry and government awards including the Institute of Civil Engineering’s International People’s Choice Award for 2018.

Challenges solved by 12d Synergy

  • Seamless & effective collaboration with civil professionals globally
  • BIM delivery within a quality controlled and secure common data environment
  • A single source of truth within a centralised location for all files & documents

The Challenge

The earthquakes damaged 400 kilometres of roading and 190 kilometres of rail, closing both State Highway 1 (SH1) and the Main North Line railway between Picton and Christchurch. This left Kaikoura and the surrounding rural communities isolated.

This evoked immense social and economic pressure to rebuild the critical network and reconnect communities. The scale and intricacy of the project required the global effort of thousands of professionals from multiple organisations and countries to ensure the rapid design and delivery of this hugely ambitious and time-critical project.

Damage to Communities

Numerous Design Professionals

At the height of the project, there were 350 design professionals from 30 different organisations and multiple disciplines collaborating on over 300 design projects. This included many offshore works with specialist skills who worked remotely. In addition, the design and construction teams had to work simultaneously so critical deadlines could be met.

“It was a very, very fast paced piece of work. Essentially, we were building the plane while we were flying it!” – Matt Thomas, Business Systems Manager at NCTIR


Limited Remote Accessibility

The long project corridor and isolated location made remote accessibility to project data extremely restricted. Not only was there a design office in Christchurch, but also a Kaikoura site office, staff out in the field, staff working from their home organisations, and team members working from home or overseas.

“We had people from all over the world involved in the design. We had people from Australia, Asia, and even right up in Europe. Being able to share and collaborate data across multiple people and multiple locations was a huge challenge.” – Stuart Hamilton, Roading Technical Lead at NCTIR

A system was needed to ensure these challenges were resolved efficiently.

Limited Remote Access

The Solution

A Single Source of Truth

12d Synergy functioned as a common data environment (CDE) for the design side of the alliance. A a single source of truth, the system allowed for remote access with many members of the project working on-site or in different office locations. All the data from the 300 sub-projects were stored in one secure and central location. Even with poor internet connect, 12d Synergy still allowed files and models to be updated on-site due to the systems Intelligent Data Transferring.

Effortless Collaboration

12d Synergy allowed for seamless collaboration among all design professionals, no matter their location. Many team members came from overseas to extend design hours and leverage specialised skills to deliver this time-critical project. A team member in New Zealand could be working on part of a design, once checked back into the CDE, another team member in the UK could pick up where they left off.

A Powerful Data Management System

12d Synergy served as a data management system from the full design process and support many different software applications. Storing several TBs of data, the flexible system held the alliance’s documents, drawings, design models, and emails. New staff were constantly being onboarded and adding more users was a streamlined process. There was minimal training and resistance for adoption due to the system’s simple interface.

Data Management System

Document Control & Quality Assurance

12d Synergy maintained the document control processes and quality assurance (QA) workflows for this complex project. Each smaller project created had a standard folder structure and naming conventions for each file type. This enabled continuous work as there was an organised and standardised structure. Features like the Audit TrailVersion HistoryRollback, and Check-In-Check-Out were used daily to ensure QA.

“Often preliminary design options aren’t chosen, or things change on-site impacting the design. So being able to roll back to a previous version with 12d Synergy has proven to be extremely beneficial for us.” – Stuart Hamilton, Roading Technical Lead at NCTIR.

CAD Management

12d Synergy managed all CAD drawings and files effectively for NCTIR. In total there were 20 CAD users, producing over 6,000 drawings through AutoCAD. Customisations were also managed through 12d Synergy and features like Version Control and Rollback were in constant use as there were continuous daily changes to the design. The Excel drawing register was also managed within the CDE.

“The Rollback feature has been priceless for us. Without it, we could be losing a day or event a week’s worth of work trying to go back to a previous design or drawing.” – Nathan Watts, CAD Manager at NCTIR.


12d Synergy was the perfect solution for NCTIR.

NCTIR Allian

Aurcecon, WSP, and Tonkin + Taylor formed the joint design venture for the project. 

System Stats

Number of jobs 1,600
Number of 12d Model projects 785
Number of files 1,360,000
Number of files changes 2,550,000
Total size of files 5.7 TB

The Outcomes

Reconnected Communities

With the streamlined workflows and processes through 12d Synergy, valuable and effective work on the design could be done. This allowed the road and rail network to be re-opened in just over a year from when the earthquakes occurred, reconnecting Kaikoura and the surrounding rural communities. Stuart Hamilton says: “This wasn’t just about building roads, this was about reconnecting deeply affected communities. It was about giving people hope.”  

Reconnected Communities

Global Design Community

“Having other team members in different time zones working on the design enabled us to extend our design period to 15 to 20 hours a day. All were able to quickly connect to the same location through 12d Synergy which was amazing.” – Stuart Hamilton, Roading Technical Lead at NCTIR.  

Global Community

Full BIM Delivery

As different disciplines and departments were all collaborating for one common goal, 12d Synergy enabled the alliance to achieve a BIM delivery for the project. Different file types were utilised across different software packages, established in a centralised location. Stuart shares: “For this incredible canopy structure, I built a digital model using 12d Synergy to store the entire design. This package included 4-point clouds, 3D drawings done with 12d Model, and a Navisworks model. We could then send it easily to the workers out on-site.”

BIM Delivery
We were dealing with a lot of information across a very long corridor with multiple projects occurring at the same time. And it was a very, very fast paced piece of work. Having all the designs sitting in one location as a single source of truth where everyone can access it has been incredibly valuable.
Stuart Hamilton

Roading Technical Lead, NCTIR

Interested in finding out how 12d Synergy can do the same for your business?

Find out more this global project in this free eBook

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Michelle was a marketing coordinator here at 12d Synergy. Hailing from sunny Brisbane, she has a background in mechanical engineering authoring a final year thesis on reuseable scramjets (faster than a rocket, smaller than a plane). Outside work & rocketry, Michelle enjoys binging Netflix and food with friends.