New Zealand Railways Department

The New Zealand Railways Department (NZR) also known as New Zealand Government Railways was a government department created in 1880. NZR acquired a number of private railways from 1886, including the Waimea Plains Railway Company and the New Zealand Midland Railway Company in 1898. The acquisition in 1908 of the Wellington and Manawatu Railway Company and its railway line marked the completion of the North Island Main Trunk from Wellington to Auckland after 23 years construction. In 1923 the West Coast line opens with the Otira tunnel containing the nation's first electric railway. In 1945 the South Island main trunk from Christchurch to Picton is completed and by 1953 the rail network reached its peak in terms of network reach at 5,689 kilometres. Between 1959 and 1971 numerous country branch lines close across the country as the steam era ends as NZR re-equipped lines with modern diesel locomotives. The NZR was reorganised in 1982 to become an independent commercial company called the New Zealand Railways Corporation.