Some Good News For KiwiRail Freight


Good to hear some good news on the KiwiRail freight front.

KiwiRail freight services are resuming along part of the Castlecliff branch line this week.

KiwiRail Network general manager Rick van Barneveld said the rail track, which runs alongside Taupo Quay and Heads Road from Cobham Bridge to the Open Country Dairy site in Castlecliff, is operational for freight trains to run from today.”We’re delighted to provide a new service for a freight customer.”

He said KiwiRail has worked closely with the Wanganui District Council to ensure that the resumption of trains on the line worked well, including ensuring visibility along the tracks.

Mr van Barneveld said rail safety was extremely important to KiwiRail.

“Trains will be running regularly along this line now, and it is vital that people treat the crossings with care. Trains are heavy and run on rails - they cannot stop quickly or swerve to avoid collisions. People need to take care, observe the road rules so that they come to a stop at crossings, and make sure there are no trains before they start to cross the tracks.”

Initial plans are to run four trains daily on weekdays, with additional services as demand requires.




  1. tim says:

    This doesn’t sound quite right to me. 4+ trains a week just out of nowhere? Sounds very pollyanna IMHO.

    Anyone want to make an OIA to the Minister to review the business case (if any)?

  2. Matt L says:

    Tim - The line has been reopened to serve one or two customers so they already know what the volumes are. As it goes through an industrial area there is also an opportunity for more business in the future if those businesses choose to use it.

  3. Patrick R says:

    OK so this is Whanganui? How long has the line been unused? And was it mothballed? Does this mean that ‘mothballing’ is not the end of a line?

  4. Geoff says:

    Some of the freight handling is switching from Wanganui to a new container yard further down the branch. I’m not sure if there’s any extra tonnage involved at this stage. Four trains will be two return shunts per day, basically the two existing Wanganui shunts going a bit further.

  5. Matt L says:

    Patrick - It was mothballed in 2006 by Toll

  6. Giel says:

    The use of the Castlecliff line was suspended by Tranz Rail in 2001 well before Toll was on the scene. It was part of their Intermodal centralisation strategy of closing uneconomic service offerings ie local circuit shunts that cost more to service than revenue generated

    OIA requests on KiwiRail business cases would be a good idea at some future point if they don’t improve financial performance but for now be grateful the Government is bank rolling KiwiRail in the way that no one else ever would! It needed a helping hand to get
    started into new business and this is an example of just that. They need a chance to prove themselves on stuff like this.

  7. Mike says:

    Matt L is correct, and it was Toll that suspended services on the Castlecliff line, in about 2006. I remember seeing the relevant Train Advice, and photographing the sleeper that had been chained across the line soon after.

  8. Giel says:

    Mike and Matt L - Both wrong - Sorry.

    You are confusing Ontrack closing the line - yes closing the line - on September 5, 2006. I can assure readers Toll did not suspend services on this line. Toll didn’t issue train advises - that was Ontracks job back then - their bulletins merely advised actions that Ontrack had taken. Ontrack asked Toll in August of 2006 if they wanted the line - Toll didn’t at that point. Tranz Rail had effectively mothballed the line in March 2002. For your interest around that time the services were also suspended on the Whakatane Line in the BOP by Tranz Rail as part of the same strategy.

    This is the problem with the internet people think they know things and even more disturbing go to lengths like changing Wikipeadia, which I note was changed overnight incorrectly, and now has a material mis-statement on the lines history.

    Fact and Quote - NZ Railway Observer No 279 October - November 2006, Page 140

    “Ontrack announced that effective from Monday 5 September the Castlecliff Industrial Line was closed to all rail traffic. A sleeper was to be secured across the track at the beginning of the line, which has been in a mothballed state. The last train ran on the line in March 2002″

    By the way the editor of the Railway Observer, Graeme Carter, lives in Wanganui and if anyone would know he would.

    I get annoyed at Wikipedia sometimes for these sorts of errors as there is effectively no control on it so can understand how some people including newspapers get the facts wrong. These same newspapers are in turn used as sources for Wikepedia and the vicious cycle of inaccuracies carry on!

  9. Luke says:

    I understand there has been no services on the line since about 2002, as that was when Affco finally got fed up with rail as that was the only traffic at that stage.
    However Toll very nearly closed Wanganui altogether as there was a very serious plan to send everything to Palmy, lucky that never happened as Wanganui is booming now. Largely because of Open Country but log traffic has started too.

  10. Giel says:

    Luke - Yes you are probably right - in fact I believe at one stage Tranz Rail had the same idea back in 2002.

    Lesson here is that don’t say “never” as you don’t know what is around the corner in terms of new business opportunities - a lesson for Northland Rail perhaps?


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