Heritage steam ban KiwiRail South Island network
This request has an unknown status. We're waiting for Colby to read a recent response and update the status.
Dear Kiwi Rail,
There has been much speculation as to why Kiwi Rail is not allowing steam trips to run past Kaikōura to Invercargill, for example the“Great Southern Steam Train Tour" of which was not aloud to use mainline certified AB 608 for the rest of the south island trip and instead got replaced with the vintage heritage DA class locomotives of which are being used again to run their next trip instead of the AB class steam train. I am formally requesting to know the offical reason why Kiwi Rail is (from 2020) not allowing the use of heritage steam trains on the West Coast (Midland line) and between Kaikōura and Invercargill on Kiwi Rails track. To my understanding it is a issue between the union not wanting heritage steam runing down here on the network due to personal reasons and disputes between North Island steam crews and the South Island steam crews clashing.
Thank you for your time and I look forward to your reply
From: Dave Allard
Good afternoon Colby
Thank you for your request asking - I am formally requesting to know the
official reason why Kiwi Rail is (from 2020) not allowing the use of
heritage steam trains on the West Coast (Midland line) and between
Kaikōura and Invercargill on Kiwi Rails track.
To respond to your request - KiwiRail is formally declining the request
under the OIA under section 18(e) – the information does not exist. Which
is the formal part of the process, as we would like to advise there is no
heritage steam ban in place at KiwiRail.
For your information, our understanding is that the current South Island
situation is simply a reflection of the retirement of our former steam
While we still have a steam qualified Locomotive Engineer on the Mainland,
this individual is currently out of code for steam operation on the main
KiwiRail has committed to train new steam crews to support heritage
activities. A training course for firemen starts next week at the
Glenbrook Vintage Railway near Auckland, this course has been funded by
KiwiRail and will see four existing LE’s from the lower North Island
trained to operate as steam firemen. This course was originally planned
to take place during 2020 but was delayed due to COVID-19 disruptions.
We have been working with FRONZ to determine priorities for further steam
training. As well as initial training, steam crews require regular
exposure and competency assessments to ensure they remain compliant and
this is not sustainable in the South Island given the number of trips
expected in the short to medium term.
We continue to work with FRONZ on this issue, and we will regularly
revisit the training of crews to support national operations. Note we
have trained additional South Island LE’s to operate heritage diesel
locomotives to still allow for a main line heritage rail experience.
As this response is provided under the OIA, you have the right to seek an
investigation and review by the Ombudsman of this decision. Information
about how to make a complaint is available at
www.ombudsman.parliament.nz or freephone 0800 802 602.
Otherwise, any questions – please feel free to get in touch.
Dave Allard | Senior Government Relations Advisor
DDI: +64 4 498 3218
Level 4, Wellington Railway Station, Bunny Street, Wellington 6011 | PO
Box 593, Wellington 6140, New Zealand