This page provides a list of common railway terms

Arrival road
A track on which trains stop on arrival at a yard. 

Average Haul
The (weighted) average distance freight is carried.  It is calculated as net tonne kilometres/net tonnes.

Average Gross Train Load
A measure of total average gross weight of trains. The total average of wagon payload and wagon tare weight on trains, which is calculated by total freight gross tonne kilometres divided by total freight train kilometres.

Average Net Train Load
A measure of total average net weight of trains. The total average of wagon payload on trains which is calculated by total freight net tonne kilometres divided by total freight train kilometres.

Average Track Density
A measure of usage of a railway in density terms which is determined by gross tonne kilometres divided by route kilometres for a given section of track.

Average Train Speed
Average train speed calculated by total train kilometres divided by total train hours.

Automatic vehicle identification

Axle load
The weight on any one axle (tonnes). 

A twin axle wheelset or "truck". 

Bogie Wagon
A rail wagon with twin axle wheel sets. 

Collective Employment Agreement 

Coupled In Motion Weighbridge 

Clearance gauge
The maximum permitted dimensions of the rail vehicle and load. 

The set of wagons or carriages which form the train. 

Controlled Network
Comprises all track where occupancy and movement by Rail Service Vehicles is under the control of KiwiRail. 

Centralised Traffic Control:  remote centralised control of signals and points and therefore train movements. 

Continuous Welded Rail 

Developing Auckland's Rail Transport Network. 

Converted from a tunnel into a cutting. 

Diesel electric multiple unit: a two passenger car set in which one car is diesel electric powered. 

A measure of the level of operating activity on a particular line (or a group of lines) expressed as millions of gross or net tonne kilometres per route kilometre per year. 

A derailment of a train that has been made up, tested and departed from the originating station. 

Heating and refastening of rail. 

Diesel multiple unit: a two passenger car set in which one car is diesel powered. 

Equipment used to connect wagons together. 

Employee Assistance Programme. 

East Coast Main Trunk line between Hamilton and Kawerau. 

Rail vehicle that automatically records track geometry and notes exceedances. 

Electric Multiple Unit. A two or three passenger car set in which one car is electrically powered. 

Flash butt welder
Welding machine used to weld lengths of rail together in situ. 

Flashing lights and bells. 

The earthworks on which the track is laid. 

Freight forwarding
Freight forwarding companies contract with the shipper for the complete transport task, but subcontract the line haul, after consolidation where appropriate. 

Full Time Equivalent staff counts. 

Gauge (track gauge)
The distance between the rails on the railway track (1067mm or 3ft 6in on NZRL, 1435mm or 4ft 8½ in USA). 

Gross Tonne Kilometres (GTK)
The sum of the total train weight multiplied by the distance travelled:  frequently used to mean GTK trailing. 

GTK trailing
Gross tonne kilometres excluding the locomotive. 

Half Arm Barriers 

Heat buckling
Distortion of track alignment under high temperature conditions. 

Heritage Charter Services
A train service organised for or by rail heritage enthusiasts. Heritage Operator means rail enthusiasts organising and operating such a service. 

Hi-Rail Vehicle (HRV)
A road vehicle fitted with retractable rail trolleys such that it can be driven along the track and can also be driven on or off track at level crossings or other suitable places. 

Infrastructure Works Controller (IWC)
A person in charge of an infrastructure work area on the National Rail System. 

Injury downtime rate
The time lost to injuries as a percentage of total hours worked. 

Line haul
That part of the transport task that is between terminals (distinguishing from the aggregation and distribution at each end of the journey). 

Light Inspection Vehicle (hi-rail) 

Locomotive Hours
The total numbers of active locomotive hours whilst on trains. For example, two locos on one train for one hour is two locomotive hours. 

Locomotive Kilometres
The locomotive kilometres run on trains, including shunting, en route. For example, two locomotives travelling one kilometre on one train is two locomotive kilometres. 

Lost time
A period in which an employee is unable to work. 

Lost time injury
An injury which causes an employee to miss at least one shift or results in the employee being away from work for at least one full working day. 

LTIFR (Lost Time Injury Frequency Rate)
The total number of lost time injuries per million hours worked. 

Arranging wagons in the correct order for making up trains. 

Midland Line
The East-West rail line between Greymouth and Rolleston (south of Christchurch). 

The route of railway from Marton to New Plymouth. 

Mobile Track Maintenance Vehicle (MTMV)
Tampers, regulators, spot re-sleepering group, ballast cleaner, track evaluation car, self-propelled cranes and heavy hi-rail vehicles exceeding an un-laden weight of 20 tonne. 

Main North Line: The route of railway from Picton to Christchurch on the South Island. 

Manukau Rail Link 

Main South Line: The route of railway from Lyttelton to Invercargill on the South Island 

Million train kilometres 

North Auckland Line: The route of railway from Westfield Auckland to Otiria in Northland. 

Narrow Gauge
Distance between rails of less than 1.435 metres; in the case of the company, a gauge of 1.067 metres. 

National Rail System
The rail network comprising the Controlled Network and Operator Controlled Territory.  It includes all track unless specifically defined as unavailable for rail activity, owned or managed by KiwiRail (including private sidings) and all retained track. 

National Rail System Standards (NRSS)
Standards adopted by KiwiRail and all operators using the National Rail System. 

Net Tonne-Kilometres (NTK)
The sum of the tonnes carried multiplied by the distance travelled. 

Network Controller
The party who is delegated by KiwiRail to authorise the occupancy and movement of trains and other Rail Service Vehicles, including notification of special conditions in respect of the whole or part of the Controlled Network.  This includes, where the context so requires all Network Control Managers, Train Controllers, Signal Box Controllers and Network Controllers (Authorities).

North Island Main Trunk:  the route of railway from Auckland to Wellington. 

New Zealand Transport Authority, the regulator for the rail industry (formerly Land Transport New Zealand). 

The description of an event in the company's occurrence management system. 

Operator Controlled Territory
Means all track outside the Controlled Network and forming a part of the National Rail system where an operator or other designated party is responsible for the occupancy and movement of Rail Service Vehicles. 

Palmerston North to Gisborne Line: The route of railway from Palmerston North to Gisborne. 

Power Van
A railcar carrying diesel powered generators to provide lighting and heating or cooling power to a passenger train. 

Rail lubricator
A track mounted device actuated by passing wagons to lubricate rails in order to reduce rail wear. 

A self-propelled carriage.  The term is generally only used in Toll to apply to the three Silver Fern railcars (and earlier vehicles since withdrawn). 

A track machine used to ensure an even distribution of ballast. 

The replacement of an asset on a like-for-like basis. 

Revenue tonne Kilometre
The weight of freight carried for hire in tonnes multiplied by the distance travelled in kilometres. 

Rail and Maritime Transport Union. 

Rolling stock
All locomotives, railcars, wagons and carriages. 

Route Kilometre
One kilometre length of rail route, excluding sidings, without adjustment for double track. 

Revenue Tonne Kilometres used interchangeably with NTK. 

To move a locomotive, wagons or carriage onto a different track using a special railway engine (shunt) designed for this purpose. 

Siding, Terminal or Depot Controller
A person responsible for the co-ordination of Rail Service Vehicle movements in a designated siding, terminal or depot outside the Controlled Network. 

Single manning
Driver only operation of freight trains. 

Single track
A rail route with one track, allowing traffic to move in only one direction at a time. 

The route of railway from Stratford (on the MNPL) to Okahukura (on the NIMT). 

SPAD (Signal Passed at Danger)
Any signal, which has been passed without the correct authority or where the safe-working authority has been exceeded. 

A category "A" SPAD is a SPAD where a stop signal indication (and any associated preceding cautionary indications) was displayed correctly, in sufficient time for the train to be stopped safety at the signal.  Note that a Stop Signal also includes points indicators, notice boards (those requiring a train to stop), and Track Warrant limit over-runs. 

Structure gauge
The maximum permitted dimensions of the rail vehicle and load. 

Transport Accident Investigation Commission – Crown investigation agency. 

Mechanised rail vehicle which lifts and straightens track. 

Twenty-Foot Equivalent Unit - Generally a 20 foot standard container unit to ISO standards. 

TEU's multiplied by distance travelled by TEU's on an individual basis. Individual calculations are summed up to arrive at total TEU Km's. 

Track quality index, representing a weighted sum of geometry exceedances. 

Track Kilometres
Total Track Kilometres including double track ie. 1km of double track Route Km's is two Track Km's. 

Generally relates to NTK's and GTK's meaning that those calculations do not include the weight of the Locomotives but only the loads being towed by locomotives. 

A single unit. 

Train Hours
The total number of hours of all trains from start time to finish time of trains. 

Train Kilometres
Total train kilometres consist of kilometres travelled by Freight Services, Passenger Services and Infrastructure Services. 

A person unlawfully on railway property (ie without proper authorisation). 

Tare Tare Kilometres which is the sum of tare weights (Weights of empty wagons) multiplied by the distance travelled - also generally the difference between NTK's and GTK's. 

Turnout (also switch or points)
A mechanical installation enabling trains to be guided from one track to another, such as at a junction or where a siding branches off. 

Unit train
Any train which operates in a fixed formation between loading and unloading points, usually carrying bulk commodities such as coal, forestry or grain. 

Wagon Kilometres
The total amount of wagon kilometres run over a given period, both empty and full. 

Wagon Velocity
Total Wagon Kilometres divided by available hours of those wagons - measured in kilometres per hour. 

Wellington Region Rail Project. 

Work Trains
Trains used for maintenance purposes (generally infrastructure maintenance such as ballasting and rail renewals) which are not in revenue service. 

Wrong side failure
The failure of a signal such that the indication shows ‘safe to proceed’ when this is not necessarily correct.