New Zealand TR class
Hillside NZR built TR 874 at Dunedin in 2013.
Type and origin
Power typeDiesel-Mechanical/Hydraulic
BuilderNZR Petone Workshops (1),
Drewry Car Co (29),
A & G Price (41),
W G Bagnall (7),
Hitachi (6),
NZR, Hillside Workshops (9),
Muir-Hill (4),
Hudswell Clarke (3),
F.C. Hibberd & Co (2),
Robert Stephenson & Hawthorns (5)
Build date1924-1978
 • AAR0-4-0, 0-6-0
Gauge1,067 mm (3 ft 6 in)
Loco weight9.4–20.8 t (9.3–20.5 long tons; 10.4–22.9 short tons)
Prime moverDetroit 4-71, Gardner 8LW, Gardner 6L3, Gardner 6LW, McLaren M6, Gardner 6LX, Cummins 6 cyl
Performance figures
Maximum speed24–40 km/h (15–25 mph)
OperatorsNZGR, New Zealand Railways Corporation, Tranz Rail, Toll Rail, KiwiRail
Number in class90
Nicknames"Rosie" (TR 107), "Timmy" (TR 163), "Tonka Toy" (TR 534)
First run1936
Current ownerKiwiRail
Disposition13 in service; 6 withdrawn; 36 preserved, 32 scrapped, 1 in service for an industrial use.

The New Zealand TR class locomotive[nb 1] is a type of diesel shunting locomotives built by many different manufacturers. Defined as "shunting tractors" or "rail tractors"[1] by KiwiRail and its predecessors,[2] they are classified "TR" for tractor as a result.[3] Many of these locomotives have been withdrawn, but some are still in service. The first locomotive of this class was built by NZR in 1924. The most powerful were Japanese-built Hitachi TRs, with 138kW Cummins engines.[4]


The typical role of a TR was at small stations where a normal shunting locomotive was not needed due to light traffic. NZR's operating rules allowed TRs to be driven by staff who were not members of the locomotive branch, saving on wages. Other roles have included shunting at railway workshops and depots, and most of the remaining locomotives can still be found at these locations. There are very few stations where they are still in use owing to rationalisations of freight terminals, the trend towards containerisation of traffic, and roving shunting services. A number of locomotives have been leased to industrial operators for private siding use.[5]

The last TR was built in 1978, TR 191. The greatly reduced needs of NZR and its successors for this type of locomotive, and industrial requirements being able to be handled by other ex-NZR classes or locomotives obtained from elsewhere has meant no TRs have been added since then. However, four locomotives have been reclassified from other types.

The TR classification has been applied to two former industrial locomotives. One of these is TR 81, which was purchased from the Ohai Railway Board in 1955. Built by the Drewry Car Co in the 1930s, it is similar to the first generation 0-4-0 Drewry TRs but was originally fitted with the Gardner 6LW diesel engine. The other is A&G Price no. 222 which was acquired from Pacific Metal Industries in the early 2000s. It was built in 1968 with a 307 hp (229 kW) diesel engine and is of the 0-6-0 wheel arrangement. Originally reclassified DSA 222 it now carries the number TR 1026 and is leased for industrial use.

In the 1990s, EB 26 at Napier was reclassified as TR 1003 and used in the area for shunting work. The EB class were formerly workshops shunting locomotives. The Plains Vintage Railway & Historical Museum of Ashburton, a heritage railway, also reclassified two former industrial locomotives as TR. Although A & G Price built similar locomotives for NZR, plus a J & F Howard's former Public Works Department shunter no. 936. These locomotives were never owned by New Zealand Railways Department or their successors and thus their TR classification and numbers are historically fictitious.


Petone Railway Workshops

Petone Workshop built TR1, about 1925. AP Godber collection, Alexander Turnbull Library.
Petone Workshop built TR1, about 1925. AP Godber collection, Alexander Turnbull Library.

The first TR shunting locomotive built was TR1, constructed at Petone Workshops, New Zealand in July 1924. It was built from a standard Fordson 22hp tractor, which was attached to a patent underframe supplied by the Adamson Motor Company of Birmingham, Alabama. It was used until the 1940s for light shunting in various parts of the North Island.[3]


In 1928, NZR purchased two small TR locomotives from Muir-Hill Equipment Limited of Manchester.[6] The locomotives were similar to one supplied to the Department of External Affairs for use on the Telefunken Railroad in Samoa. This locomotive was eventually sent to New Zealand to the Department of Public Works, and then handed to NZR in 1940. All examples were written off by 1948.[6]

Muir-Hill and A & G Price

A further three locomotives were ordered by NZR from A & G Price of Thames in 1930.[7] A&G Price constructed the locomotives to the same design as the two Muir-Hill locomotives previously supplied to NZR. They entered service in 1931. The last one was written off and scrapped in 1950.[7]

Drewry Car Co

The original batch of six 0-4-0 TRs, 13-18, supplied in 1936 by the Drewry Car Co., was supplemented by TR 20-22 and 30-36 in 1939-40. These were powered by Parsons petrol engines. In 1939-40 seven 0-6-0 TRs (the only ones of this type), 23-29, were supplied and were fitted with Leyland 10-litre (610 cu in) petrol engines Wairarapa railcars. Finally, in 1950 five 0-4-0 TRs, 60-64, with diesel engines were introduced. The locomotives were built at various United Kingdom works including Vulcan Foundry and Robert Stephenson and Hawthorns. Two Drewry TRs are still in service today. This locomotive, TR 56, is KiwiRail's oldest locomotive (being introduced in 1936) and is used at their Hutt Workshops for light shunting duties.[2] TR23 was restored by the Gisborne City Vintage Railway in February 2013 and is still in use by them.[8]


Hudswell Clarke

Hudswell Clarke TR 54 at Ferrymead Railway in 2012.

Built by Hudswell Clarke originally for the Public Works Department as part of a batch of 12 built in 1936, three locomotives were transferred to NZR, one in 1942, another in 1950 and the final in 1954.[9]

W. G. Bagnall

Bagnall built TR156 at Ferrymead
Bagnall built TR156 at Ferrymead

W G Bagnall built seven TRs in 1956-57. The first five were supplied with McLaren M6 engines, the last two with Gardner 6L3 engines, all with a Self-Changing Gears 4-speed gearbox. The McLaren engines were unsuccessful, so from 1973 TR 150-154 were re-engined with the Gardner 6LX with Twin Disc torque converters. These TRs were the heaviest and one of the more powerful types.

A & G Price

A&G Price built TR 170 (TR 724 TMS)
A&G Price built TR 170 (TR 724 TMS)

The long-established New Zealand engineering firm A & G Price of Thames supplied a total of 39 TRs, making them the largest single builder. Four different models were supplied: the Model 3 (TR 100-109), with Gardner 6LW engine and self-changing gears, 4-speed gearbox; the Model 9 (TR 110-118), powered by a Gardner 6LW engine and Twin Disc torque converter; the Model 4 (TR 157-161), McLaren M6 engine and SCG 4-speed gearbox; and the Model 6 (TR 162-176), engine Gardner 6L3, also SCG 4-speed gearbox. The McLaren engined TRs were re-powered from 1975 with Gardner 6LX engines and the gearbox was replaced with a Twin Disc torque converter. Three of the A & G Price TRs remain in service.[10]

Hitachi, Japan

In the 1960s Hitachi received an order for six TRs, 177-182, at a time when NZR was turning away from traditional English suppliers and purchasing an increased number of vehicles from Asia.[4] The locomotives were equipped with a Cummins 6-cylinder engine developing 138 kW (185 hp) and Niigata torque converter, making them the most powerful TRs. Five of the Hitachi TRs remain in service.[5]

NZR Hillside workshops

The last TRs were manufactured by NZR at its Hillside workshops. Up to two were completed each year between 1973 and 1978 (TR 183-191). The design is an unusual (for a TR) centre-cab style with a single Gardner 6LX engine and Rolls Royce torque converter. Standard parts such as DSC class windows were utilised in these TRs. Seven of these TRs remain in service.[5]


All TRs were introduced in the Midland Red livery, except the 6 Hitachi built locomotives. In the 1970s all of them had black and yellow chevron safety stripes painted on their headstocks. In the 1980s all of them were repainted into the "International Orange" livery (orange hoods, yellow ends and grey on the cab). TRs 603 and 920 were repainted in Flying Tomato (long and short hoods and cab red and yellow at each end); six were repainted into the Cato Blue (blue body, grey cab and yellow ends) including 943 that received a "one off" being repainted with a blue short and long hoods, blue at each end and grey on the roof of the cab and on top of the hoods; TR 109 was repainted with black and yellow "Chevron Safety Stripes" on the headstocks and along the running boards with yellow that cover most of the long hood with red covering the top quarter; TR 626 was repainted white with yellow headstocks and has the "New Zealand Rail" logo on the front and 718 was also repainted white but this time with red headstocks for the Westland Dairy Company.[11] TRs 56 and 92 were repainted fully yellow with white numbers on each side of their cabs. In 1994 TR 943 was repainted at Hillside Workshops and was repainted in dark blue with black and yellow "Chevron Safety Stripes" on its headstocks. It also had "Transtec Engineering Dunedin" on the side of the long hood.[12]

Table of locomotive specifications

Manufacturer Drewry Car Co Drewry Car Co Drewry / RS&H Drewry Car Co A & G Price A & G Price W G Bagnall W G Bagnall A & G Price A & G Price Hitachi NZR Hillside
Axles 0-4-0 0-6-0 0-4-0
Road numbers 13-18
23-29 60-64 81 100-109 110-118 150-154 155, 156 157-161 162-176 177-182 183-191
Introduced 1936-40 1939-41 1949-50 1939 1956 1963-64 1956-57 1956-57 1958-59 1959-62 1969 1973-78
Number in sub-class 16 7 5 1 10 9 5 2 5 15 6 9
Length 5.1 m (17 ft) 6.2 m (20 ft) 6.6 m (22 ft) 5.0 m (16.4 ft) 6.1 m (20 ft) 6.4 m (21 ft) 7 m (23 ft) 7 m (23 ft) 7 m (23 ft) 7 m (23 ft) 7 m (23 ft) 7 m (23 ft)
Weight[nb 2] 9.4 t (9.3 long tons; 10.4 short tons) 15.7 t (15.5 long tons; 17.3 short tons) 20.1 t (19.8 long tons; 22.2 short tons) 10.7 t (10.5 long tons; 11.8 short tons) 15.2 t (15.0 long tons; 16.8 short tons) 15.2 t (15.0 long tons; 16.8 short tons) 20.8 t (20.5 long tons; 22.9 short tons) 20.8 t (20.5 long tons; 22.9 short tons) 20.3 t (20.0 long tons; 22.4 short tons) 20.3 t (20.0 long tons; 22.4 short tons) 20.3 t (20.0 long tons; 22.4 short tons) 20.4 t (20.1 long tons; 22.5 short tons)
Engine Parsons petrol /
Detroit 4-71
Leyland petrol /
Gardner 8LW
Gardner 6L3 Gardner 6LW /
Detroit 4-71
Gardner 6LW Gardner 6LW McLaren M6 /
Gardner 6LX
Gardner 6L3 McLaren M6 /
Gardner 6LX
Gardner 6L3 Cummins 6 cyl Gardner 6LX
Transmission Wilsons 4 speed /
Allison torque converter
Unknown /
Wilsons 4 speed
Wilsons 4 speed Wilsons 4 speed or
Allison torque converter
SCG 4 speed Twin Disc torque converter SCG 4 speed /
Twin Disc torque converter
SCG 4 speed SCG 4 speed /
Twin Disc torque converter
SCG 4 speed Niigata torque converter Rolls Royce torque converter
Power 52 kW (70 hp) /
78 kW (105 hp)
90 kW (120 hp) /
75 kW (101 hp)
115 kW (154 hp) 76 kW (102 hp) / 78 kW (105 hp) 83 kW (111 hp) 80 kW (110 hp) 112 kW (150 hp) 114 kW (153 hp) 112 kW (150 hp) 114 kW (153 hp) 138 kW (185 hp) 112 kW (150 hp)
Tractive effort 23 kN (5,200 lbf) 33 kN (7,400 lbf) 35 kN (7,900 lbf) 30 kN (6,700 lbf) 32 kN (7,200 lbf) 37 kN (8,300 lbf) 34 kN (7,600 lbf) 43 kN (9,700 lbf) 42 kN (9,400 lbf) 42 kN (9,400 lbf) 49 kN (11,000 lbf) 34 kN (7,600 lbf)
Speed 33 km/h (21 mph) 24 km/h (15 mph) 35 km/h (22 mph) 33 km/h (21 mph) 27 km/h (17 mph) 24 km/h (15 mph) 40 km/h (25 mph) 30 km/h (19 mph) 30 km/h (19 mph) 30 km/h (19 mph) 32 km/h (20 mph) 40 km/h (25 mph)
23-29 60-64 81 100-109 110-118 150-154 155, 156 157-161 162-176 177-182 183-191


  1. ^ Following the introduction of TMS in 1979, the class classification was capitalised, whereas previously the second letter was a smaller capital letter, that is TR
  2. ^ Weight in working order


  1. ^ KiwiRail 2011, p. 5.
  2. ^ a b KiwiRail 2011, p. 27.
  3. ^ a b Palmer & Stewart 1965, p. 133.
  4. ^ a b Parsons 2002, p. 11.
  5. ^ a b c KiwiRail 2011, p. 29.
  6. ^ a b Palmer & Stewart 1965, p. 134.
  7. ^ a b Palmer & Stewart 1965, p. 135.
  8. ^ "TR23 - Gisborne City Vintage Railway". 12 February 2020.
  9. ^ "New Zealand Railways Rolling Stock Lists - TR shunting tractor". Retrieved 8 March 2019.
  10. ^ KiwiRail 2011, p. 28.
  11. ^ "Railfan". 9 (2). Triple M Publications. March 2003. ISSN 1173-2229. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  12. ^ "Railfan". 1 (4). Triple M Publications. September 1995. ISSN 1173-2229. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)