New Zealand Rail itself was formed on 10 October 1990 from a separation from New Zealand Railways detailed in the New Zealand Railways Corporation Restructuring Act 1990, which continues to this day as an SOE.
New Zealand Rail Limited was renamed Tranz Rail Limited in 1995. In 1996, the company listed on the New Zealand Stock Exchange and also on NASDAQ in the United States. In July 2002 it delisted from NASDAQ.
An Australian company, Toll Holdings, is now majority shareholder of Tranz Rail after a successful takeover bid between July and October 2003.