Waimea Plains Railway Line Opened 1880
When the Waimea Plains Railway opened, New Zealand was slipping into the depression and traffic justified trains only three days a week. As the Kingston Branch ran on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, the Waimea Plains Railway ran on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. When the national economy improved in the 1890s, so did services on the line, and a passenger express ran from Kingston to Gore three days a week; this became known as the "Kingston Flyer" and tourist service has operated on 14 kilometres of track between Kingston and Fairlight on the Kingston Branch. Although the preserved Kingston Flyer uses two AB Class locomotives, the initial Flyers used K class engines.
Passenger numbers declined in 1937 when regular services were withdrawn on the Kingston Branch north of Lumsden, the line's passenger services ceased on 17 September 1945. Like the Kingston Branch, the Waimea Plains Railway had regularly seen a significant number of passenger excursions on top of normal services throughout its history, and these continued for over a decade after 1945. 1956 was the last year passenger trains ran each way on the same day over the Waimea Plains, and the last excursions came during the 1957 Easter holiday period.
Freight trains initially operated out of Lumsden and ran five days a week until 1956. Services were re-organised to operate from Gore in 1959 and operated thrice-weekly. In 1930 and 1952, the line was not considered to be a branch and thus was not assessed in the branch line commissions of those two years, but in 1967, it was announced that its future was under review. The district negotiated a reprieve for three years, promising extra traffic, and DJ Diesel Locomotives replaced Steam on the line in January 1969, but less than 24,000 tonnes were carried annually and through trains ceased running in October 1970, replaced with two shunting services, one from Gore to Riversdale and the other from Lumsden to Kingston Crossing, leaving a 9 km gap of line unused, although the tracks were still in place and closure of most of the line came on 1 April 1971. A number of excursion trains ran on the line in its final weeks. Demolition of the line from Balfour back to Gore began in the later part of 1971. Although there were proposals to retain the line from Gore to Mandeville as an industrial siding to serve a proposed freezing works in the area, this proposal never eventuated and the line was lifted from Balfour all the way back to Gore. The last 2 km section of line from the junction points at Gore to the Gore Gravel and Crushing Company's plant was retained as an industrial siding until it too was closed on 1 October 1972. The 16 kilometres from Lumsden to a silo at Balfour remained open for the transport of wheat, but the quantity was not enough to justify the continued existence even of the truncated portion of the line, and it closed on 15 January 1978.