Developing land near rail

KiwiRail supports the safe use and development of land adjacent to the rail corridor. In most cases this occurs without any impact on the rail network.  However, some activities do have an impact on the continued safe operation and maintenance of the rail network.  This includes developments located some distance from the rail corridor that have the potential to create additional vehicle traffic over level crossings.  KiwiRail takes an interest in these activities near or within the rail corridor.

Our RMA team works to influence land use planning and development to ensure that the existing and proposed railway corridors are protected.

Activities and their impact

In most cases the development of land adjacent to the rail corridor occurs without any issues.  However, activities such as those set out below can affect the rail infrastructure and KiwiRail would like to discuss the options with you before you start work.


Summary of the Effect

Residential and Noise Sensitive Activities

  • Residential and Noise Sensitive Activities near the rail corridor can result in complaints due to effects such as noise and vibration, dust, emissions, and the 24/7 nature of rail.  This can result in an expectation of changes to rail activities.
  • These effects can give rise to a reduced amenity for residents and occur where they are located near to the railway.

Excavation, Earthworks  and other Construction

  • Works in, above or adjacent to the rail corridor can destabilise the rail embankment and rail structures, which are generally not designed to support additional load.
  • Services located in the corridor can be disrupted.

Vehicle and Pedestrian Access

  • Changes in the volume or type of vehicle movements over a public or private level crossing can alter the safety of the crossing.
  • Vehicle access to properties should be setback from level crossings to enable stacking of longer vehicles.
  • Creation of new level crossings is generally not supported by KiwiRail.

Stormwater Drainage  

  • Discharge of stormwater and modified overland flow paths onto the rail corridor can result in flooding damage and scour to the rail embankment and ballast.
  • Installation of bridges, culverts and pipes near rail structures or under the rail corridor can alter drainage and flooding patterns.


Lighting and Glare

  • The direction of lighting creating light spill, glare from exterior lighting, and the use of reflective material can result in the blinding of the train driver and obscured signals.


  • Litter from neighbouring properties can accumulate on the rail corridor.  Containment of litter and provision of secure rubbish storage areas, including for commercial and industrial sites, can help.

Planting Vegetation

  • Vegetation growing over the boundary into the rail corridor can reduce sightlines at level crossings, or create maintenance and weed management issues.

Fencing - Trespass

  • The security of fencing along the rail corridor is essential to prevent unauthorised entry by people and livestock.  Given the frequency and speed of trains, unauthorised entry is a key safety risk and has the potential to disrupt services.

Setbacks for Buildings and Structures

  • Building setbacks from the rail corridor reduces the need to access the corridor to maintain buildings and also provides safe distances from electrified lines. This in turn reduces disruption to the rail operation.
  • Buildings and structures too close to the corridor can reduce sight lines at level crossings and increase safety risks.

Storage, use or disposal of Hazardous Substances and Dangerous Goods

  • Location of flammable gas cylinders or storage of flammable products can pose an unnecessary risk to the safe operation of trains and future development of the rail corridor.
  • Location of hazardous substances and dangerous goods within the rail corridor is generally not supported.


Works within KiwiRail land

Where you plan to work within KiwiRail land, you must obtain the written approval of KiwiRail before you commence any work. Where occupation of rail land is proposed, either on a temporary or permanent basis, a Lease or a Grant of Right from KiwiRail may also be required. This is a separate process.

Affected party approval

Written approval is required from KiwiRail where the local Council considers KiwiRail's property or operations could be affected by your proposal.

We always advise undertaking early consultation with KiwiRail’s RMA Team when planning a development adjacent to the railway corridor.  Any requests should be addressed to KiwiRail's RMA Advisor by post or via the email address provided below.

Information we need to see for Section 95E of the RMA (Affected Party) assessments

If consultation is required with KiwiRail, we need a reasonable level of information in order to understand the effects your proposal might have on our infrastructure or operations.  Please note that we don’t know as much about your proposal as you do, so to help us process your request faster we will need much of the information set out here.  Please use this checklist to make sure you have all the correct information.  If any information is missing or inadequate, we will let you know.

What sort of effects might KiwiRail interested in

Development proposals which may have adverse effects on KiwiRail’s operations can include: 

  • Whether activities are ‘noise sensitive’ i.e. new and altered residential activities, healthcare, educational and cultural activities;
  • Additional traffic movements and their impact on flow and safety at level crossings;
  • Additional or changes to an existing vehicle access;
  • The design and visibility of access to/from sites and the impacts on road/rail safety;
  • Visual distractions (advertising signs, light locations etc);
  • Landscaping and planting which may cause obstruction, shading or otherwise impair visibility for the train driver or vehicle drivers; and
  • Structures proposed under the corridor (e.g. drainage pipes) or structures over watercourses near existing railway bridges or culverts.

As part of our assessment we may seek amendments to your proposal to mitigate any effects that may adversely impact on the safe operation of the rail network or the rail corridor.

We will do our best to meet your timeframes for feedback. To assist us to do this, we need you to provide us with as much detail as you know about your proposal.

For more information

The KiwiRail RMA team handles all resource consent and designation matters.  They will co-ordinate discussions with other departments in KiwiRail and with regional offices where necessary.  You can contact the RMA Advisors via the following:

Technical information requirements

If consultation is required with KiwiRail the following information should be provided:

Property Information:

  • Legal description and street address;
  • An accurate location plan (with a north point); including an aerial photo where available and identification of any topographical features (e.g. watercourses);
  • All legal boundaries of the property, including dimensions of the property and the location of the rail corridor relative to the site boundaries and the proposal;
  • All buildings, both existing and proposed;
  • Measurements of all yards / setbacks for all buildings existing and proposed;
  • All rights of way and utility service easements applying over the site or appurtenant to the site, with dimensions.

Application Material:

  • Adequate description of what you propose to do on the land.
  • A copy of the planning application, including accompanying form and AEE, including as relevant:
    • Zoning of the site and the plan rules that are breached;
    • Elevations of the proposed building, as necessary, for the purposes of establishing maximum height in relation to the boundaries, and to indicate the design of the building;
    • The location of all car parks existing and proposed, including access and maneuvering areas;
    • Location and nature of any external storage of materials existing and proposed;
    • The location and design of all signs, existing and proposed;
    • Any environmental or supporting assessments that have been undertaken; and
    • Any mitigation proposed, e.g. landscaping, noise insulation etc.