• How are the New Zealand Milk Trains faring nowadays

  • Discussion about railroad topics everywhere outside of North America.
Discussion about railroad topics everywhere outside of North America.

Moderators: Komachi, David Benton

  by Sir Ray
Looking up another topic on Usenet, I found a few articles from the late 1990s on the start up of milk trains in New Zealand, particularly Manawatu to Hawera and Oringi to Whareroa.

Alas, 1998 was a long time ago, when men were men and sheep were nervous, so I wonder what has since become of these dedicated bulk milk trains.

Just for giggles, here's the Press Release I found on Usenet (so fair use readily applies) from 1998:
Press release dated 20 August.

Tommorrow a new bulk milk transport service starts carrying milk from the Manawatu to the Kiwi Co-operative Dairies plant near Hawera.
Tranz Rail, using specially designed 52,000 litre tanker wagons, will twice
a day carry milk collected at the Longburn dairy factory for processing at
the Whareroa plant.
This new service builds on the very successful "milk trains" which started
running last year from Oringi in the Southern Hawkes Bay to Whareroa.
Tranz Rail Managing Director, Dr Francis Small, said "To move the milk we have to be fully integrated with the milk production process. This year we are offering a complete door to door service with Tranz Rail loading the milk into tanker wagons and then discharging milk at the Whareroa plant".
"We are continuing to develop our partnership with Kiwi Dairies and we are making a big commitment to the business by adding another 45 New Zealand built tanker wagons to our existing fleet of 20 tankers to carry the increased volume of milk each day," he said.
Tranz Rail will be carrying up to 3.2 million litres of milk a day by train
at the peak of the season with it's services running from Southern Hwakes
Bay and manawatu regions.
The first "milk train" service from Longburn departs daily at 1:00pm and
takes five hours to travel to Whareroa. A second service leaving at 00:40am is planned to start in a week.
The milk season in the Hawkes Bay is expected to start in a few days with
trains leaving Oringi at 3:00pm and 3:45am daily, arriving at the Kiwi
plant seven hours later.

  by David Benton
the milk trains have been a huge success in NZ .
Its the off season at the moment , but come august or so , i believe there will be 4 daily trains running . i think they now combine the 2 trains at Palmerston North . A train from Oringi stops at Palmerston North , and picks up more tankers from Longburn , which is only 10 k.m south from P.nth . the Train then runs to Whareroa as a single train .
At Wanganui , a helper is added to get the train up the punishing grades between Wanganui and Whareora . These trains are often featured on dvds such as "tonnes of Grunt" , as they often run during daylight hours . ( if your interested i can get you a copy of these Dvds , theyre a bargain at $ 5 ) .
Over the years theres been a few derailments that have thrown a spanner in the works , milk been perishable needs to get there within a day or so , which has lead to some interesting workings . If the Manawatu Gorge is closed , then the trains will detour down to Wellington , and back up to Palmerston north , then on to Whareroa . If there is a derailment between Palmersotn North and Whareroa , then trains may run up the north island main trunk , across to Taranaki , then down to Whareroa .
When Wahreroa is closed for maintenance , then milk may be sent as far as up to Northland , or in rare cases , across Cook strait to the south island .
The south island is becoming a dairy producer too , and some milk trains may be possible there as well . The biggest Dairy factory down there is not rail connected however , but there are plans to build a 12km branch line to it .
Likewise in the waikato , Nz's biggest dairy producing region , the distances are shorter , and again the biggest factory is not rail connected , so milk trains are less likely there .
However , toll rail has signed an agreement , for the warehousing and transport of most of their output , which is quite an achievement for the short distances involved . less than 100 km to the port !

  by Sir Ray
That's pretty interesting and informative, and encouraging - sounds a bit like the fairly involved milk train action during the early part of the last century around these parts. Well...maybe more like the Catskills and Hudson Valley area to the north really - Long Island was more potato and duck territory back then, although I'm sure there was a dairy or two around these parts(and yes, I am fairly familiar with the several large 'dairies' in Jamaica Queens and environs - more like milk and milk products packing plants).

  by David Benton
The interesting thing is , i m pretty sure New zealand railways never carried milk until the start of the bulk milk trains .
in the early years , dairy factories were dotted every 5 miles or so in the dairy regions . ( within a hour or 2 by horse and cart i spose ). and in those days , you were a dairy farmer in a dairy region , or a sheep or beef farmer anywhere else ( things were simple in those days ). So rail never fiqured in the cartage of raw milk , it was of course used to cart the finished product to the nearest port , to be shipped off to mother England .
with the event of the milk tanker truck , most of the little factories were closed , and some of them became big factories , like the giant plant at Whareroa . Many of the small buildings survive as private homes , workshops , or craft shops etc .

  by David Benton
i have just read that the milk is been taken up the nimt to dairy factories in the waikato . presumably because of maintenance shut down at the hawera plant .
So the milk is been hauled by electric traction .

  by Sir Ray
David Benton wrote:i have just read that the milk is been taken up the nimt to dairy factories in the waikato . presumably because of maintenance shut down at the hawera plant .
So the milk is been hauled by electric traction .
Actually bulk rail haul of milk by electric locos is even cooler - almost Railroad Tycoon III like...

  by David Benton
sorry , should be N.I.M.T , which stands for North Island Main trunk , the mainline between Acukland and Wellington .
Its electrified between Hamilton and Palmerston north . so these trains would be doing 90% of their journey behind electric traction .
mainly hydro generated electricity too .