DL-hauled freight passes Castle Pamela near Tirau
|Status||Open, freight only|
|Opened||6 October 1952 (as a heavy-rail line)|
|Owner||New Zealand Railways Corporation|
|Line length||65 km (40 mi)|
|Number of tracks||Single|
|Track gauge||1,067 mm (3 ft 6 in)|
The Kinleith Branch railway line is located in the Waikato region of New Zealand. The line was constructed by the Thames Valley and Rotorua Railway Company, Taupo Totara Timber Company and rebuilt by the Public Works Department primarily to serve the Kinleith Mill in 1952. It is 65 kilometres (40 mi) in length.
The New Zealand Government Railways line to Thames was opened to Morrinsville on 1 October 1884. Taking advantage of enabling legislation, the Thames Valley and Rotorua Railway Company originally built the line from Morrinsville as part of its planned route to Rotorua as far as Lichfield. This section opened in 1886. However, NZGR took over the company on 8 March 1886, instead building the Rotorua Branch railway line from Putaruru. The 8 km (5 mi) section between Putaruru and Lichfield was closed by NZGR in 1897 as it served no purpose. The Taupo Totara Timber Company (TTT Company) then used the disused railway formation from Putaruru for its lightly constructed line to Mokai, near Lake Taupo.
Following the exhaustion of native timber in the region, the TTT Company line closed on 26 October 1944. However the government saw that the line had greater potential and in September 1946 acquired the 29 km (18 mi) section between Putaruru and Kinleith. This line formed part of a proposed railway line to Taupo. The section of line reopened on 9 June 1947 under the control of the Public Works Department, using geared steam locomotives purchased from the TTT Co. The Public Works Department eventually rebuilt the line with heavier rail, wider curves and slighter grades, reaching Tokoroa in 1949 and Kinleith in 1952.
Since the withdrawal of the Geyserland Express to Rotorua in 2001, all services on the line are freights. The line from Putaruru - Kinleith Mill has only seen regular freight trains since being rebuilt in 1952. Occasional steam-powered excursions have been made.
The branch sees eight trains in and out of Kinleith each weekday, two on Saturdays and four on Sundays.
- Churchman, Geoffrey B.; Hurst, Tony (1991). The Railways of New Zealand: A Journey Through History (reprint ed.). HarperCollins Publishers (New Zealand).
- Robin Bromby (2003). Rails That Built A Nation - An Encyclopedia of New Zealand Railways. Grantham House. ISBN 1-86934-080-9.
- "North Island Master Plan" (PDF). 24 May 2009. Archived from the original (PDF) on 21 July 2011.
- Hermann, Bruce J; North Island Branch Lines pp 25–29 (2007, New Zealand Railway & Locomotive Society, Wellington) ISBN 978-0-908573-83-7
- Ministry of Works progress report 1950 (page 15)