Rail Brands

Information about New Zealand rail brands. The photographs were taken between 2004 and 2012 in the Hutt Valley area.

The photos were taken from station platforms or public paths beside the track (except closed section of Gracefield Line).

For two lists of rail brands click here.


Extract from Handbook For Permanent Way Staff (1958).

The various rails in use are distinguished by their weight expressed in pounds per yard and by the section to which they are rolled. The rail section which finds almost universal acceptance today is the "T" section or flat-bottomed rail. It is designed as a girder to distribute a wheel load over several adjacent sleepers and is the development resulting from earlier failures and weaknesses.

Prior to 1905 no uniformity of rail section had been adopted by the Department and rails were rolled or purchased as seemed convenient and suitable to meet its requirements. These were produced in 40 lb., 53 lb., 56 Ib., and 70 lb. to the yard. Sometimes, these rails, though produced in England, were rolled to American rail sections. In 1905 the first British Standard rail designs were published, and at that date the Department adopted the British Standard sections and these remained in use until about 1930. The weights used during this period were 55 Ib., 70 Ib., and 100 Ib. These rails are known to the track staff as "Old British Standard" or simply as "O.B.S." rails.

In 1924 the 1905 standard rail sections were redesigned generally increasing the height whilst leaving the width of base unaltered. The weights of these sections used by the Department were 70 lb., 75lb., 85 lb., and 100 Ib. It is now the practice by track staff to designate the rails rolled to the 1924 standard as "New British Standard" or "N.B.S.". Officially, they are known as "Revised British Standard" or "R.B.S." rails, and are distinguished by the letter "R " following the weight on the rail brand, thus -70 R. No further bulk supplies of these rails will be purchased.

As a war emergency measure quantity of 75 lb. and 90 lb. rails to standard American designs were imported.

In 1950, following upon the discovery of certain weaknesses in the British Standard sections and the necessity for a slightly heavier rail, the Department prepared its own designs for two new weights and designated these 72 1b, N.Z.R. and 91 1b. N.Z.R.

It may be said, generally, that the length of rails has increased proportionately to the increase in weight with an upper limit of 42 ft. for all standardised rails from 70 lb. to 91 lb. Green ends -shorter rails for use in laying the low legs of curves -are usually in lengths of 41 ft. 81/2 in. for 70 lb., and 41 ft. 71/2 in. for 85 lb., 91 lb., and 100 lb.


OB Open Hearth Bessemer

BS Bessemer Steel

LB pounds (weight) per yard

KG Kg per metre

R (after weight) Revised British Standard (RBS) designed in 1924.

NZR "In house" section designed in 1950

ARA ??

CLD ??

CC ???


D L & Co Dorman Long & Co

TRL Toll Rail Ltd or Tranz Rail Ltd.

Details of rail sections can be found at:



Rail Brands

Rail Brand 1870

B 1870 XI  Bullhead rail on bowstring bridge Gracefield Branch.

Rail Brand 1873

B I W Co 40 LBS 1873 NZR  Kaiwharawhara overbridge structure.

Rail brand 1874

1874 40 LBS NZR  Lower Hutt - part of 1905 verandah. Cannot read manufacturer's name.


...  1876 Bowstring bridge Trentham

Trentham Brand

T I & C Co Ltd 10/78 52lb NZR  Trentham - flat bottom rail on bowstring bridge.

Rail brand 1900

?? Steel Co 5501 1900  Kaiwharawhara overbridge structure. The manufacturer may have been National Steel (from a list compiled by J A Dangerfield).


1908  Barrier, Hutt Shops Elizabeth St


1916  Epuni Verandah

Rail brand 1925

NZR BS 70 D L & Co Ltd P G 7/1925  Guard rail on Ava Bridge, up main. Bessemer Steel 70 lb/yd, Dorman Long & Co. There is no "R" after the weight so this is Old British Standard (OBS) rolled to a 1905 specification.

NZR BS 70 R O B D L & Co Ld P C 9/1929 Verandah, Melling Station. Bessemer Steel 70 lb/yd, Dorman Long & Co. Revised British Standard.

Rail brand 1929

NZR BS 70R O B D L & Co Ld P C 10/1929 Verandah, Naenae Station. Bessemer Steel 70 lb/yd, ?? Dorman Long & Co. Revised British Standard.

Rail brand 1937

NZR BS 70R OB GKB PT 10_1937  "R" indicates revised british standard (RBS or N (New) BS). Upper Hutt Dock

Trentham Brand

NZR BS 70R OB MM SCW 1952  Trentham Station Verandah. The station was built in 1954 so the rail was near new when used.

Rail brand 1952

9020 RA USS CARNEGIE USA 1952 ||||||||||||  90 lb/yard, ARA section (Americam Railroad Association), Gracefield Branch, near signal 7. It was manufactured at the Edgar Thomson Plant in Braddock.

Rail brand 1954

9020 RA USS CARNEGIE USA 1954 |||||  90 lb/yard, ARA section (American Railroad Association??), Maymorn.

Rail brand 1954

NZR BS 85R - DBMM - DL & Co LTD - CLD - 12-1954  85 lb/yard, RBS. Upper Hutt Safety Siding

Rail brand 1955NZR - 91 DBMM DL & Co Ltd CLD 4 1955  NZR Section, 91 lb/yd, Dorman Long & Company. Gracefield Branch, Hutt Park Rd end.

....1955  Trentham Main. (Not photographed)

Rail brand 1958NZR - 91 - OB - ??? - OLD - 1958  Gracefield Yard, Seaview Rd end

Rail brand 196391 LB NZR OB YAMOTO 63  Gracefield Branch, Hutt Park Rd end.

Rail brand 1964NZR 91 OB CARGO FLEET VII 1964  Cargo Fleet Iron, presumably at its works at Cargo Fleet (aka Cleveland Port), near Middlesborough. Presumably absorbed into British Steel. Gracefield Branch, Hutt Park Rd end. (?? Is year 1969??).

Rail brand 1966A ? 6 6/1966 NZR 91LB BS OB  Epuni down main.

Rail brand 197091 - NZR - BA - WORKINGTON - 1970  Manor Park Down Main by level crossing. also Petone?

Rail brand 1971A ? S IX/1971 NZR 91LB BS OB  Naenae down main.

Rail brand 1980NZR 50KG UIC 860A BHP ||||/1980  Wallaceville.

Rail brand 1984NZR 91 LB - A - BSC WORKINGTON - 84 - ||| - O  Trentham Main south end.

Rail brand 1990

NZR 50KG - A - BRITISH STEEL - 90 - 11 - 0 -CC  Hutt River Bridge Ava, Down Main.

Rail brand 2004

TRL 50 one 2004 X  Wingate Down Main after re-railing. I assume that TRL50 (Tranz Rail Ltd) is the same profile as NZR50.


OT50 PZH U75V 2009 1V New rail beside track near 6 signal Petone. I assume that OT50 (Ontrack) is the same profile as NZR50.

NZR50 2012

NZR50 PZH U75V 2012 V1 New rail beside track at Epuni and near Petone Box. The designation NZR50 has returned - maybe there is no KR50 (KiwiRail) brand?

Last Updated: Tue Dec 4 08:18:49 NZDT 2012

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