It’s a trucking operation that’s been around on the Coast for 60 years. It’s just that it’s had a handful of different owners, three different colour schemes….and two different names in that time.
Trans West Freighters started out in Greymouth in 1958, the name first registered by Peter Gurr and Barry Hurley, its trucks bearing a cream and brown livery.
The name stayed the same for around four decades…with a colour scheme that was also little changed – with a red stripe added and the cream sometimes supplemented (or replaced) with white.
By 1986, TWF’s West Coast owners were sharing the company with Nelson-based TNL and Northern Southland Transport – each group with a 33% shareholding.
But a year after the Transpac collapse in 1987 (which involved TNL), TWF became 100% owned by Northern Southland – and started a period of rapid growth.
The fleet numbers jumped from a handful of trucks in ’86, to 28 just two years later…and 42 by 1995 – many of them Mercedes-Benz models.
In this period, TWF became renowned in the industry for its innovative ways of dealing with a difficult environment – like stock units with crates designed precisely to just fit under a heap of low-clearance bridges….
And, most famously, its practice of running B-train freight units across Arthurs Pass, beating the 13-metre length restrictions on the Otira Gorge zig-zag by having the tractor unit drop off the rear trailer, tackling the Gorge, parking the front trailer...
Then doubling back and picking up the rear trailer, returning…and then re-assembling the B-train. Eventually, TWF even got to the point of leaving a tractor unit at one end of the restricted route to save unhooking the B-train tractor. Even with the to-ing and fro-ing it saved 68kms or so each way, compared to running via the Lewis Pass.
Then, around the start of the new millennium, the fleet was rebranded – the TWF name and colour scheme disappearing, its trucks instead taking on the Northern Southland Transport name and its brown and cream livery.
Then, seven years ago, the Trans West Freighters name made a comeback, albeit with a brand-new colour scheme – blue and white base colours, separated by a red stripe.
It’s a radical departure from its historic colours – so how come? Simple: In the wake of Northern Southland’s West Coast freight business being sold to Toll New Zealand, its Canterbury/Westland livestock and bulk operations were also sold – to Methven-based Philip Wareing Ltd, which has blue and white base colours…with gold stripes.
Thus, says PWL’s Mark Wareing, it achieved two things – a distinctly different look and branding to the colours of former owner Northern Southland…and the return of an important name in the Coast’s history.
It’s this colour scheme, which currently adorns seven trucks, that earns Trans West Freighters the status as this month’s finalist in the PPG Transport Imaging Awards.
It’s a livery that’s shown off to great effect on TWF’s two latest additions – a pair of identical Kenworth K200 Aerodyne HPMV livestock units, powered by 615-horsepower Cummins X15 engines and driven by Dylan Pupich and Mike Johnson.
The colour scheme, which also currently features on two DAF CF85 tippers and three Mercedes-Benz Actros units – two on livestock and one tipper – was something of a no-brainer in terms of its base colours, according to Mark Wareing...
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