- New Zealand Railways Department
The New Zealand Railways Department, NZR or NZGR (New Zealand Government Railways) and often known as the "Railways", was a government department charged with owning and maintaining New Zealand's railway infrastructure and operating the railway system. The Department was created in 1880 and was reformed in 1981 into the New Zealand Railways Corporation. Originally, railway construction and operation took place under the auspices of the former provincial governments before coming under the central Public Works Department, but the role of operating the rail network was subsequently separated from that of the network's construction. From 1895 to 1993 there was a responsible Minister, the Minister of Railways. He was often also the Minister of Public Works, as the Public Works Department was responsible for constructing new lines.
- 1870: The Public Works Act of 1870 specified a national standard (narrow gauge) of 3 feet 6 inches (1067 mm).
- 1876: Provinces abolished, Public Works Department amalgamates provincial railways, including Canterbury Provincial Railways.
- 1880: Railways Department formed out of Public Works Department; Port Chalmers Railway Company Limited acquired
- 1886: Waimea Plains Railway Company acquired
- 1900: Protracted legal battle with New Zealand Midland Railway Company resolved, the partially completed Midland line acquired
- 1907: New Zealand Railways Road Services branch formed to operate bus services
- 1908: Wellington and Manawatu Railway Company acquired; North Island Main Trunk railway completed
- 1923: The Otira Tunnel completed, heralding the completion of the Midland Line in the South Island
- 1928: Ill-fated G class Garratt locomotives introduced. The failure of this class lead to the introduction of the K class in 1932
- 1931: Transport Licensing Act 1931 passed, regulating the carriage of goods and entrenching Railways' monopoly on land transport. The Act was repealed in 1982.
- 1937: Wellington Railway Station, the Department's new head office, completed.
- 1951: The Department introduces the DE class diesel-electric locomotives; replacement of steam locomotives by diesels begins
- 1952: New Zealand railway network reaches its zenith, with 5,700 km of lines open. EW class electric locomotives introduced for the Wellington electric system
- 1953: Tangiwai disaster: 151 people die when Wellington - Auckland express is derailed due to a bridge collapse
- 1954: The Department introduces the DF class, the first main-line diesel-electric locomotives
- 1955: The DA class diesel-electric locomotives are introduced, and start to displace steam locomotives from the North Island
- 1956: JA1274 is completed at Hillside Workshops, Dunedin, the last steam locomotive produced for NZR traffic.
- 1962: The arrival of the Aramoana heralds the introduction of inter-island ferry services by the Department
- 1968: Introduction of DJ class diesels in the South Island accelerates the demise of steam
- 1970: The Southerner between Christchurch and Invercargill introduced
- 1971: Silver Star luxury Wellington - Auckland train introduced
- 1972: Last class of mainline steam locomotives withdrawn, the Ja class; the first Silver Fern railcars introduced; and the DX class locomotives introduced, then the most powerful class of locomotives in New Zealand
- 1978: A major DA class rebuilding programme launched, creating the DC class
- 1979: Silver Star withdrawn due to poor patronage
- 1981: Corporatised as the New Zealand Railways Corporation
The Railways Department followed a traditional 'branch' structure, which was carried over to the Corporation.
- Finance and Accounts;
- Publicity and Advertising;
- Railways Road Services;
- Traffic; and
- Way and Works.
The following NZR workshops were builders of locomotives and rolling stock when NZR was a government department, the active ones still operating.
- Addington Workshops, Christchurch (closed 1990)
- East Town Workshops, Wanganui (closed 1986) also Aramoho
- Newmarket Workshops, Auckland (opened 1875, closed 1928)
- Otahuhu Workshops, Auckland (opened 1928, closed 1990)
All now closed, none manufactured locomotives, although major overhauls were carried out.
- Greymouth (Elmer Lane)
- New Plymouth (Sentry Hill) from 1880
The following numbers are given by Lloyd (pages 187-189) for steam locomotives built and rebuilt at NZR workshops:
Workshops New Rebuild Total Addington 114 12 126 Hillside 165 21 186 Hutt 77 0 77 Petone 4 7 11 Newmarket 1 9 10 Westport 0 2 2 Total 361 49 410
Nine of the ED electric locomotives were constructed at the Hutt (7) and Addington (2). Various diesel locomotives have been rebuilt at NZR Workshops, eg some of the DA as DC, though most rebuilding has been contracted out. Hillside built 9 NZR TR class diesel shunters.
Private firms that built steam locomotives for NZR
British companies, eg:
- Beyer, Peacock and Company
- Hunslet Engine Company
- Nasmyth, Wilson and Company
- North British Locomotive Company (built a quarter (141) of NZR steam locomotives)
- Avonside Engine Company (Fairlie and Fell locomotives)
American companies, eg:
- American Locomotive Company
- Baldwin Locomotive Works (built 111 steam locotives for NZR and the WMR).
- Rogers Locomotive and Machine Works
New Zealand companies:
- Garnet Hercules Mackley, General Manager
- A. L. Beattie, Chief Mechanical Engineer
- George Troup, Architect, Mayor of Wellington
- Whitford Brown, Civil Engineer, Mayor of Porirua
- Lloyd, W. G. Register of New Zealand Railways Steam Locomotives 1863-1971 (2nd edition 2002) ISBN 0-9582072-1-6
Former operators Preceded by
Public Works Department
New Zealand Railways Department
New Zealand Railways Corporation
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