The Railways Act was passed by Parliament on 13 April 2005 with the aim of improving the safety regime for all rail operators. It came into force on 20 July 2005.
The Act implemented the recommendations of the Ministerial Inquiry into Tranz Rail (the Wilson report) and addressed gaps in the safety framework, that had arisen because of changes in the rail industry.
It also consolidated most existing rail safety legislation into a single Act (aspects of Transport Services Licensing Act 1989 and the Land Transport Act 1998, as they relate to rail, and the Rail Safety and Corridor Management Act 1992).
The Act introduced a more proactive approach to identifying and managing critical safety issues by ensuring key rail participants are licensed, that key safety data is collected, that operators demonstrate they're managing safety risks, and that the New Zealand Transport Agency has more powers to audit, inspect and sanction operators.
Read the text of the Act
The Railways Bill, as reported back to Parliament from the Transport and Industrial Relations Select Committee on 09 August 2004, is available here(external link).