Earnings for the six months to December 31 2014 slumped 6% to $NZ 35.1m compared with $NZ 37.3m for the corresponding period a year earlier, although there was a slight increase in revenue, which rose 0.3% to $NZ 366.6m.

KiwiRail chairman Mr John Spencer says the company's financial performance was adversely affected by a drop in bulk export freight volumes. "Bulk freight was significantly affected by lower volumes of coal being transported in the South Island and the hot, dry summer which impacted on primary production," he says.

However, Spencer says this was partially offset by a rise in domestic freight revenue due to the strength of New Zealand's economy and an ongoing shift of some road freight to rail, a result of KiwiRail's partnerships with freight forwarders in the development of intermodal freight terminals.

KiwiRail is forecast Ebitda for the financial year to June 30 to be $NZ 90-95m, up from $NZ 77.5m a year earlier. KiwiRail reported a loss of $NZ 248m in the 2014 financial year.