KiwiRail Holdings Limited
State-Owned Enterprise
Industry Rail transport, shipping, property management
Predecessor Toll NZ
Founded 1 July 2008 (2008-07-01)
Headquarters Wellington, New Zealand
Area served
New Zealand
Key people
John Spencer (Chairman)
Brian Corban (Deputy Chair),
Peter Reidy (CEO)
Services Rail freight
Long-distance passenger rail
Urban passenger rail
Inter-island ferries
Revenue Decrease NZ$720.6 (FY June 2015)[1]
Decrease NZ$168 million (FY June 2015)[1]
Subsidiaries KiwiRail Finance Ltd
KiwiRail Ltd

KiwiRail Holdings Limited is a New Zealand State-owned enterprise responsible for rail operations, which trades as KiwiRail. Headquartered in Wellington, New Zealand, KiwiRail is the largest rail transport operator in New Zealand. Since July 2010 John Spencer has been the chairman. KiwiRail Freight, KiwiRail Scenic Journeys and the Interisland Line are all subsidiaries of KiwiRail.


KiwiRail was created from a number of entities that date back to the 19th century. Prior to KiwiRail, rail transport in New Zealand has been under both public and private ownership. Government operators included the Public Works Department (1873–1880), New Zealand Railways Department (1880–1982), and the New Zealand Railways Corporation (1982–1990). New Zealand Rail Limited was split off from the Railways Corporation (which continued to own the land beneath the rail network) in 1990, privatised in 1993 and then renamed in 1995 to Tranz Rail. In 2004 Tranz Rail's rail, ferry and trucking operations were taken over by Toll Holdings and renamed Toll NZ, with the central government buying back the rail network under the New Zealand Railways Corporation (trading as ONTRACK). After several years of negotiations the two parties could not come to an agreement on the amount that Toll should pay for access to the rail network (track access fees). In July 2008, the government announced the purchase of Toll Rail from Toll, renaming it KiwiRail. The Railways Corporation then owned both KiwiRail and ONTRACK, but both companies were merged in October 2008[2] to create one company that controls both rail and ferry operations and rail infrastructure. Toll retained ownership of its trucking operation.

Turn-around plan

A new DL class locomotive (9020), purchased as part of KiwiRail's turnaround plan.

For 13 years during private ownership, infrastructure investment outside of Wellington dropped to an average of just over $25m a year. Since then it has ranged between $100 and $200m a year.[3]

In the 2010 New Zealand budget KiwiRail received a capital injection of $250 million, and a further $500 million in principle to make it sustainable within a decade. Prime Minister John Key and Minister of Transport Steven Joyce said the injection was part of a $4.6 billion turnaround plan for KiwiRail "designed to see the rail freight become sustainable within a decade by getting it to a point where its costs are funded solely from customer revenue." The $4.6 billion would come from business itself.[4]

KiwiRail describes its turnaround plan as reflecting "the need to create a viable and efficient rail industry capable of meeting its share of freight traffic projected to grow by at least 75 percent by 2031."[5]

The plan aims to increase rail traffic volumes and revenue, increase productivity, modernise assets and separate out the commercial elements of the business from the non-commercial.[5]

The plan includes five major points:[5]

Two of KiwiRail's major customers, Mainfreight and Fonterra, have invested heavily in rail-related infrastructure. Mainfreight has allocated $60 million for investment in new railhead depots, while Fonterra has invested $130 million in a new rail hub complex in Hamilton and another in Mosgiel.[8]

In 2013, company Chairman John Spencer stated that over the last three years of the plan, rail freight revenue has increased by over 25%.[9]

Canterbury earthquakes 2010 and 2011

KiwiRail's South Island operations were disrupted by the 2010 Canterbury earthquake, but KiwiRail also participated in disaster relief efforts.[10] Their operations were once again disrupted by the 2011 Canterbury earthquake, resulting in the cancellation of the TranzAlpine and Coastal Pacific passenger trains until 1 March that year.[11]


On 31 October 2011, KiwiRail proposed splitting its land and rail corridor assets from its rail operation assets.[12] On 27 June 2012 it was announced by the company that the value of the land and rail operations will be written down from NZ$7.8 billion to $1.3 billion, and KiwiRail will continue as the rail and ferry operator, while the New Zealand Railways Corporation will manage KiwiRail's land.[13] The de-merger took effect on 31 December 2012.[14]

Asset sales

On 19 April 2012 KiwiRail announced it was putting its Hillside Engineering division on the market.[15] In November 2012, KiwiRail announced it would sell off part of the division. Ninety workers will be made redundant when the sale is complete, sometime in early 2013.[16]

In July 2012 it was revealed that KiwiRail was considering selling its Tranz Scenic division, its remaining long-distance passenger services.[17]


KiwiRail Infrastructure and Engineering

KiwiRail Network replacing sleepers on the Main South Line at Blueskin Bay, Otago.[18] Closest machine is a dynamic track stabiliser, followed by a Regulator, then a Continuous Action Tamper.

KiwiRail operates services on 3,898 kilometres (2,422 mi) of track, of which around 500 kilometres (310 mi) is electrified. KiwiRail Infrastructure and Engineering maintains and upgrades the network. The division was formerly known as ONTRACK, a trading name introduced in 2004 after the government repurchased all of New Zealand's rail infrastructure from Toll NZ.[19] Rick van Barneveld, former head of Transit New Zealand, is its general manager.

KiwiRail Infrastructure and Engineering has three main areas of operation:

The network consists of:

Yards and facilities

Some of the more prominent rail facilities used by KiwiRail include:

KiwiRail Freight

KiwiRail Freight is the company's largest business unit. Freight makes up the majority of KiwiRail's revenue, at $457 million in financial year ended July 2012.[21] KiwiRail moved 4.58 million net tonne kilometers of freight in the same year.[22]

KiwiRail hauls many different commodities, most notably coal and milk, as well as intermodal freight.

One of KiwiRail's major operations is on the Midland line, where unit trains of up to 30 wagons transport coal from the West Coast to Lyttelton.


Main article: Interislander

The Interislander is the company's second largest business unit. It operates ferry services across the Cook Strait between Wellington in the North Island and Picton in the South Island. In financial year 2012, $123.9M of KiwiRail's revenue came from the Interislander, with the majority of the Interislander's revenue coming from rail and road freight transport.[21]

Current fleet

The Interislander operates three ferries. In 2011, the Aratere was extended by 30 m to add extra capacity.[23]

Image Name Built Entered service Capacity Notes
Passengers Road Rail
DEV Aratere 1998 1999 600 + 31 crew 1050 lane metres [23] 420 lane metres (32 wagons)[23] Numbers are post 2011 modifications
MS Kaiarahi 1998 2014 550 1900 lane metres [24] none built 1998 as Dawn Merchant; chartered temporarily by Interislander in 2014 as Stena Alegra while Aratere was out of service, then chartered long-term in 2015 and renamed Kaiarahi
MV Kaitaki 1994 2005 1350 + 60 crew 1780 lane metres (550 cars) [25] none Built 1994 as Isle of Innisfree; chartered by Interislander in 2005 as Challenger; renamed Kaitaki 2007


KiwiRail Scenic Journeys is the long-distance passenger transport subsidiary of KiwiRail, operating the Capital Connection, Northern Explorer, TranzAlpine and Coastal Pacific.

Suburban rail passenger operations in Auckland and Wellington are contracted by their respective local governments and not operated by KiwiRail. In Auckland rolling stock is owned by Auckland Transport which has contracted operation to Transdev Auckland, while in Wellington rolling stock is owned by Greater Wellington Regional Council which has contracted operation to Transdev Wellington. Until 2016, KiwiRail division Tranz Metro had the contract to operate the Wellington services, but lost a bid to renew this contract in 2015. KiwiRail however is sub-contracted by Transdev Wellington to provide and operate the diesel locomotives required to haul the Wairarapa Connection service.

Current rolling stock

KiwiRail operates a variety of different locomotives, including those for shunting and specific trains used for coal and other transport modes. The table below lists only the current locomotives used by KiwiRail.

Image Class Introduced Number in class Number in service Power output (kW) Notes
DBR 1980 10 3 709 Heavy shunting. 5 stored at Hutt Workshops and 2 scrapped.
DC 1978–1981 85 41 1230 Mainline diesel-electric. 21 leased to Auckland Transport. 44 stored at Hutt Workshops.
DFT 1979–1981 30 22 1800 Mainline diesel-electric. 3 leased to Auckland Transport. 8 stored at Hutt Workshops.
DH 1979 6 6 672 Heavy shunting locomotive.
DL 2010–2014 48 48 2700 Mainline diesel-electric.
DSC 1959–1967 70 31 315 Shunting. 3 stored at Hutt Workshops
DSG 1981 24 24 700 Heavy shunting.
DSJ 1982 5 5 350 Shunting.
DX 1972–1975 49 46 2240 Mainline diesel-electric. Classified DXB and DXC, two rebuilt into DXR, one withdrawn.
DXR 1993 2 2 2420 Mainline diesel-electric.
EF 1988–1989 22 17 3000 25kV AC electric locomotives. 3 stored at Hutt Workshops.
TR 1936–1978 90 33 138 Light shunting, positioned in smaller yards and leased to industrial customers. 1 stored at Hutt Workshops.


KiwiRail operates the Hutt Workshops in the Hutt Valley of Wellington. Until 2012 KiwiRail also operated Hillside Engineering in Dunedin, but sold the business to an Australian firm that year.[15]

Corporate governance

Executive Board
John Spencer Chairman
Dame Paula Rebstock Deputy Chair
Dr Kevin Thompson Director
Mike Pohio Director
Rebecca Thomas Director
Guy Royal Director
John Leuchars Director
Paul Harper Director
Executive Team
Peter Reidy Chief Executive
Kate Jorgensen Chief Financial Officer
Alan Piper Group General Manager Sales and Commercial
Iain Hill Group General Manager Operations
Roy Sullivan Group General Manager Rolling Stock and Asset Services
Huw Bridges Group General Manager Zero Harm
David Gordon Group General Manager Asset Management and Investment
Todd Moyle Group General Manager Network Services
Andrew Norton Group General Manager Human Resources


Financial year[* 1] Total revenue Operating income[* 2] Net income
2008-09[26] $636 million $63 million -$186 million
2009-10[27] Increase $646 million Increase $74 million Increase -$48.1m million
2010-11[28] Increase $667.4 million Increase $100.3 million Increase -$31.1 million
2011-12[29] Increase $715.8 million Decrease $77.6 million Decrease -$77.7 million
2012-13[21][30][31] Increase $727 million Decrease $77.5 million Decrease -$174 million
2013-14[32] Increase $740.9 million Increase $108.2 million Decrease -$229.3 million
2014-15[1] Decrease $720.6 million Decrease $90.5 million Decrease -$168.0 million
  1. Financial year is 1 July-30 June.
  2. Operating income is revenue minus operating expenses, also known as EBITA

See also


  1. 1 2 3 "Annual Report 2015" (PDF). KiwiRail Holdings Ltd.
  2. "Annual Report 2008-09" (PDF). KiwiRail. Retrieved 23 April 2015.
  3. KiwiRail. "Improving the Network - KiwiRail". Retrieved 2016-06-24.
  4. Tracy Watkins (18 May 2010). "KiwiRail gets $250m initial boost". The Dominion Post.
  5. 1 2 3 "Overview of KiwiRail's turnaround plan" (PDF). KiwiRail. 5 May 2010. Retrieved 6 August 2010.
  6. "KiwiRail Orders Another 20 Chinese Locomotives". Otago Daily Times. 20 July 2011. Retrieved 22 July 2011.
  7. "KiwiRail to mothball Napier-Gisborne Line". KiwiRail. 2 October 2012.
  8. "KiwiRail survival plan is on track". The Dominion Post. 25 September 2010. Retrieved 2010-09-25.
  9. "KiwiRail growth momentum 'still on track'". 25 October 2013.
  10. "Railway Gazette: KiwiRail recovers from earthquake". Retrieved 2010-09-13.
  11. "Canterbury Earthquake halts services - update 3". 22 February 2011. Retrieved 8 October 2013.
  12. "No ulterior motive to sell off land or business says KiwiRail". Radio New Zealand. 31 October 2011.
  13. Adam Bennett (27 June 2012). "Huge writedown in KiwiRail value".
  14. "Positive growth continues alongside improvements to business capability". KiwiRail. 28 February 2013.
  15. 1 2 "KiwiRail Putting Hillside Workshops Up for sale". Radio New Zealand. 19 April 2012.
  16. "Jobs to go at KiwiRail after partial sale". 3 News NZ. 15 November 2012.
  17. "Opposition parties criticise TranzScenic plans". Radio New Zealand. 1 August 2012.
  18. "Half-million dollar rail project at Waitati". Otago Daily Times. 22 September 2009. Retrieved 2009-09-26.
  19. "ONTRACK – a key player in rail renaissance". Volume 3, Issue 1,. Industrial Safety News. Summer 2008. p. Page 22.
  20. "Companies Office – ONTRACK Infrastructure Limited". Retrieved 2010-09-25.
  21. 1 2 3 "Results for announcement to the market – 29 August, 2012" (PDF). KiwiRail. 29 August 2012.
  22. "KiwiRail – growing freight". Retrieved 29 August 2012.
  23. 1 2 3 "Facts and Figures - Aratere". The Interislander.
  24. "Facts and Figures - Kaiarahi". The Interislander.
  25. "Facts and Figures - Kaitaki". The Interislander.
  26. "Annual Report 2008-2009" (PDF).
  27. "Annual Report 2009-2010" (PDF).
  28. "Annual Report 2010-2011" (PDF).
  29. "Annual Report 2011-2012" (PDF).
  30. "KiwiRail Annual Report 2013" (PDF). KiwiRail. 2013. Retrieved 21 January 2016.
  31. Catherine Harris. "KiwiRail narrows annual loss". Fairfax New Zealand.
  32. "Annual Report 2014" (PDF). KiwiRail Holdings Ltd.

External links

KiwiRail subsidiaries

Articles about KiwiRail

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