Waitara Railway Preservation Society

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Waitara Railway Preservation Society
Locale Waitara, Taranaki  New Zealand
Terminus Waitara & Lepperton
Commercial operations
Name Waitara Branch
Built by New Zealand Government Railways
Original gauge 1067 mm
Preserved operations
Owned by Waitara Railway Preservation Society
Operated by New Zealand Government Railways, Waitara Railway Preservation Society
Stations One
Length 7.3km
Preserved gauge 1067 mm
Commercial history
Opened 1875 (as New Plymouth to Waitara Railway)
Closed 1999 (as Waitara Branch)

The Waitara Railway Preservation Society is a society established in 1999 to operate a heritage railway over the former Waitara Industrial Branch Railway that operated between Lepperton and Waitara in the New Plymouth District of New Zealand's North Island. The line had been closed that year after 124 years of operation, after the closure of the local AFFCO freezing works in the town.

The preserved line[edit]

The preserved line begins at the northern end of the Lepperton Railway Yards (just past the main line turnout) and continues parallel to the Marton - New Plymouth Railway for a few hundred meters before turning right towards the Waiongana Stream. After crossing the stream the line runs to the former Waitara Road station in Brixton. The line continues from here towards Waitara, passing underneath State Highway 3 at Big Jim's Overpass. Finally, the line drops into the Waitara Valley and into the township of Waitara, finishing just before the Waitara River.

In Waitara, most of the infrastructure is gone with only the main line and one loop remaining in the yard. The former Tahora station has been relocated to Waitara Road,[1] where the society's rolling stock is stored. The site of the Lepperton railway station & yard is still owned and operated by KiwiRail, where the station building was removed in 1994[2]

The branch line has 8 level crossings along its length, all of which are protected by compulsory stop signs. Issues with these were raised in the community in 2004 as legally traffic has to stop even though trains seldom ran more than once a month.[3] The Land Transport Safety Authority would not allow Give Way signs and reinstating bells and lights had been reported as costing over $250,000 per crossing (almost the purchase price of the entire line in 1999) making installation unlikely for foreseeable future. Rail operations have become more frequent since then but motorists failing to stop for the societies trains is still an issue.[4]


The Waitara Railway Preservation Society owns a number of diesel shunting locomotives, either operational or awaiting restoration. These include:[5]

Locomotives formerly leased or owned by the society include:

Rolling stock[edit]

The WRPS's collection of rolling stock consists of both passenger carriages and freight wagons, and is either owned outright by the society or is leased from the New Zealand Rail Heritage Trust.


Trains are run twice daily on the first and third Sundays of the month, departing from Waitara. The trip takes 45 minutes return, including a stop at The Former Tahora Station on the return journey for refreshments. The railway also offers charter services by arrangement.[10]

Since around 2007, trains had only journeyed as far as the Waiongana River bridge due to the deterioration of the sleepers on the structure. In April 2014 the bridge was re-sleepered and maintenance completed on the main bridge structure (including removing the former Waitara town water pipes from the side).[11] This has allowed trains to return to the entire branch line (and a proposed loop at the former Sentry Hill station site).


  1. ^ WRPS website - Brixton Station
  2. ^ North Taranaki Midweek, 6 July 1994. Page 3.
  3. ^ Rail crossing right of way stirs up a storm, The Daily News, 6 March 2004. Retrieved from www.stuff.co.nz
  4. ^ As noted in WRPS Tablet Newsletters, http://waitararailway.weebly.com/monthly-reports-along-with-the-tablet-news-letter.html
  5. ^ New Zealand Rolling Stock Register
  6. ^ NZRSR & Taranaki Flyer Society Incorporated
  7. ^ "Monthly Report November 2013-11-01" (PDF). My trains @ Waitara Railway Preservation Society. Retrieved 19 December 2013. 
  8. ^ New Zealand Railway Steam Locomotive Classes - FA Class 0-6-2T Register
  9. ^ WRPS website - FA 250
  10. ^ WRPS website - charters
  11. ^ "Chairman's Report" (PDF). The Tablet. April 2014. Retrieved 24 May 2014. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 39°01′08″S 174°13′20″E / 39.0190°S 174.2222°E / -39.0190; 174.2222