Here are some resources that provide more information on rail in New Zealand. Some set out the requirements rail operations must meet. Others offer guidance and information. There are publications, manuals, reports and legislation. We've also included rail licence application and accident notification forms.

National Rail Industry Advisory Forum (NRIAF) Industry Guidance

Title Description
Practical guidance for conducting health and safety assessments toward meeting so far as is reasonably practicable (SFAIRP) obligations in the Railways Act [PDF, 300 KB]

NOTE – This is Industry Guidance. It is hosted on the Waka Kotahi website on behalf of NRIAF. This guidance is not a mandatory compliance document. This guidance provides industry with a possible means of conducting health and safety assessments in support of demonstrating the SFAIRP requirement outlined the Railways Act 2005. This is intended to improve safety while promoting greater consistency in the application of health and safety risk management.

An overview of this process can be found by viewing this YouTube (published with approval from City Rail Link):
So Far As Is Reasonably Practicable - Safety risk acceptance video (external link)

Supporting data to Practical Guide to SFAIRP:

  1. Endorsement cover letter [PDF, 72 KB]
  2. Document review record [PDF, 566 KB]
Cover letter to NRIAF Chairperson seeking formal endorsement. Document Review Record contains all suggested inclusions and discussion. These documents should be consulted when considering future reviews of the SFAIRP Industry Guidance document


Title Description
Rail licence application form [DOC, 193 KB] Use this form to apply for rail licences, eg a rail operator/access provider/rail participant required by regulations to hold a licence.
Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency rail incident/accident report form To be used when reporting rail accidents or incidents.
Change notification form [DOCX, 88 KB]

Use this form to notify Waka Kotahi of a change your organisation is planning that involves a risk to safety, when the management of all safety risks involved with its implementation are already covered in your approved safety case.

Application for a safety case variation form [DOCX, 91 KB]

Use this form to request a variation to your organisation’s approved safety case. Once complete, email it and the other required application documents to your licence manager.

Application for a safety case replacement form [DOCX, 93 KB]

Use this form to request replacing your organisation’s approved safety case with a new one. Once complete, email it and the other required application documents to your licence manager.


Waka Kotahi publishes the results of research it has commissioned in the Resources section of our website.

Recent examples that may be of interest include:

Project Date published

Research Report 632 Framework for review and prioritisation of rail safety risks in New Zealand

The primary purpose of the project was to provide a reliable foundation for future risk reduction activities by carrying out research on best and current risk practice, undertaking a risk assessment to identify priority safety risks, and identifying potential mitigation options to reduce these priority risks to an acceptable level. The project was carried out in 2015/16 in New Zealand.

December 2017

Research Report 641 Developing a national measure for predictable public transport: bus, rail and ferry

The ability to reliably predict public transport (PT) journey times is critical for network operators and transport authorities to measure, monitor and target improvements to the PT network, with flow-on effects for customers.

Research conducted in New Zealand between August 2016 and August 2017 aimed to identify and develop an optimal measure for PT predictability. This involved undertaking a local and international review of predictability/reliability measures used for PT or private vehicle travel, and included evaluation of measures.

April 2018


Title Description
Signal – Safer Rail update Newsletter published several times a year highlighting rail safety regulation, with contributions from the Waka Kotahi Rail Safety Regulation team and stakeholders.


Guidelines and manuals

The Rail section of the website contains all the Waka Kotahi guidance material for rail participants. The PDF versions of the content are available for download on the relevant pages, but we've also provided the links to the downloads below. Links to relevant external guidance have also been provided.

Title Description
Rail safety regulatory operating model [PDF, 2.2 MB] Describes the principles and approach underpinning the Waka Kotahi rail safety regulatory activities. The key points can be found in the quick guide to the rail safety regulatory operating model [PDF, 107 KB].
Traffic control devices manual, Part 9, Level crossings Guidelines for providing traffic control devices, including signs and markings on the approaches to, and at, railway level crossings on New Zealand roads.
National Rail System Standards (NRSS)(external link) Latest versions of the NRSS documents on the KiwiRail website.
Design guidance for pedestrian and cycle rail crossings(external link)

Waka Kotahi and KiwiRail have been leading the development of a new design guide for pedestrian and cycleway treatment at level crossings.  The guide will improve safety, usability, compliance, consistency and will simplify the design process. 

As part of the process, KiwiRail has also developed new Level crossing risk assessment guidance(external link)

Level crossing safety upgrades Waka Kotahi and KiwiRail are working together to make railway level crossings on or near state highways around New Zealand safer.
Getting a rail licence [PDF, 524 KB] Printable PDF version of our guidance on the licensing process

Rail safety cases

Our guidance on safety cases and safety case variations, A printable PDF version is also available.

Governance [PDF, 1.4 MB]

Printable PDF version of our guidance on governance

Notifying accidents and incidents [PDF, 3.8 MB]

Printable PDF version of our guidance on a licence holder’s requirements for notifying us of accidents and incidents

Safety assessments [PDF, 1.5 MB]

Printable PDF version of our guidance on safety assessments

Risk management [PDF, 169 KB]

Printable PDF version of our guidance on risk and how a rail licence holder should be managing it

Assurance and internal audit [PDF, 1.7 MB]

Printable PDF version of our guidance on assurance and internal audit in the rail industry

Reports and reviews

Title Description
Best practice international solutions for mitigating human factor causes of signal passed at danger (SPAD) This is a tool commissioned by Waka Kotahi that allows rail participants to explore their strengths and weaknesses for SPAD risk reduction. It is accompanied by a report describing the development and application of the tool. (August 2016)
International benchmarking of rail safety indicators This identifies lead and lag indicators that could be used in the New Zealand rail environment, based on comparison with appropriate operations in the international rail industry. Actions required to implement this benchmarking are discussed. (March 2016)


Title Description
Rail safety statistics New Zealand rail safety statistics covering rail accident deaths and serious injuries, vehicle collisions, level crossing events, SPADs (Signals Passed at Danger), derailments, and contextual indicators. Updated six-monthly.

Links to other rail-related websites

Please note that we are not responsible for the content of these websites, which may not always reflect our policy or practice.

Category Description
Railway participants
Railway associations
Central and local government

Creative Commons Licence
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Licence