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Month: May 2017

KiwiRail in for a shake-up

KiwiRail will be reviewed. Northern Advocate Photograph by John Stone.KiwiRail will be reviewed. Northern Advocate Photograph by John Stone.

A shake-up is looming for KiwiRail – with the Government soon to release terms of reference for a wide-ranging review of the state-owned enterprise.

A likely focus is the current requirement to maintain a large rail network.

Transport Minister Simon Bridges said the review would cover KiwiRail’s operating structure and longer-term capital requirements.

This year’s Budget will invest $450 million of new capital funding in KiwiRail over two years. It comes after Bridges warned after last year’s Budget that current Government handouts could not continue.

Bridges said KiwiRail had done a good job at becoming more productive, but had suffered bad luck with setbacks such as the Kaikoura earthquake.

“We want to provide a long-term, sustainable model for KiwiRail.”

Prime Minister Bill English said the Government wanted to know if any changes would help KiwiRail stand on its own. He ruled out privatisation.

“Essentially the operating business as I understand it does make money. But the capital requirements to maintain a large rail network are very substantial.”

New Zealand First leader and Northland MP Winston Peters said the review showed the Government had “woken up” to the fact rail was needed because of road congestion.

“Remarkably, this dollars-obsessed Government has even hinted at removing the requirement for KiwiRail to be commercially viable and to make a profit, which it is currently required to do by law.”

Earlier this month KiwiRail said it could spend up to $50m on new carriages for its tourist trains as it rides the tourist boom. The company is also rebranding its Cook Strait ferry and scenic train services under one brand, The Great Journeys of New Zealand.

NZ Herald

Pressure eats at South Island truckies

FTD Magazine

A Herculean post-Kaikoura earthquake effort from New Zealand’s logistics sector has ensured vital supplies continue to move throughout the domestic supply chain with relatively little impact on consumers. But while supermarket shelves may remain stocked, handling the significantly elongated, variable and more hazardous Picton–Christchurch freight task in particular is taking its toll on South Island truck drivers – their stocks are reportedly reaching zero.

Carr & Haslam managing director Chris Carr says regularly navigating the alternative Picton–Christchurch route is having a mounting impact on truck drivers – particularly given it now takes them over worktime limits for what was previously a same-day return.

“If you use that same driver and send them up to Picton now, they have to be away one night,” Mr Carr tells FTD. “It could be different if you run two drivers and run a swap operation, which some do. They’ll have a driver in Picton – who probably didn’t exist there before – and they meet the truck in the middle somewhere, do a vehicle swap, and one goes back to Picton and the other to Christchurch. But if they didn’t live in Picton before, then they have to be put up there and don’t get home for a week.”


Mr Carr observes that roads not designed for high volumes of commercial traffic have gone from accommodating about 50 trucks to 600 trucks per day, as well as having increased general motorist volume.

“There has been a temptation for quite a small number of people to push their driving hours and to drive too quickly. One of those guys took out one of our trucks – he was cutting a corner with a 20-metre-plus B-train and there was nowhere for our guy to go,” he says.

“As a result of that, we sat down with all of our people and determined we would not do any more night trips, and we set a company speed limit of 80 kph. I would have pulled it further, but couldn’t because if you pull it down too far and the other traffic is going faster, you get too much of a barrier – cars are already overtaking in crazy positions,” he notes.

“We felt a 10 kph drop would give the drivers more reaction time. It may frustrate them a little as well, but we thought the gains in safety were worth it.”

Road Transport Forum New Zealand (RTF) chief executive Ken Shirley also notes there are “incentives to push boundaries” – particularly for those who have their investment on the line. “Obviously, if you have a $500,000 rig with debt, you want it working hard,” he says. “But we must be a compliant industry and we cannot condone any pushing of the boundaries. The boundaries are there – the work time rule for very good reasons – and fatigue is a serious issue,” he emphasises.

“Seventy hours [before a mandatory 24-hour break] is really the upper limit and you could argue in many instances that that is not desirable. There were some in our industry who thought this might present an opportunity to get extended hours on a regular basis, but all of our associations said no, we shouldn’t go down that path.”


Mr Shirley expects the onset of winter to further raise risk factors. “You’ve got a lot of high-altitude basins and river valleys that are prone to things like black ice, wet conditions and snow. Lewis Pass is frequently closed with snow. That is going to add to the challenge,” he comments.

“Whether the tourism traffic volumes will be down through winter, which may offset the risks to some extent, our message to our members is to be aware – it is going to get more hazardous and so more caution and care is required.”

As a consequence of such stresses, Mr Carr says some truck drivers have simply reached a point of saying ‘I’m out of here, I’m not going to do it any more’. However, he praises his team for sticking to the task. “Our people all come back and say, ‘Hey, it’s not good, the road’s hard, we’re working harder, we’ve got to concentrate more, it’s more tiring’. They’re not whinging – they’re just reporting matter-of-fact and accepting that there is a problem there,” he says.

“It is a kind of ‘suck it up and get on with it’ situation, because there is a driver shortage and if you’re going to move the same amount of freight, you’re going to need two or three times the number of drivers to do it – and they just don’t exist,” he adds.

“The guys are just getting on with it. They’re accepting this is a temporary thing – they all wish it would finish, but they’re doing it. It’s a kind of transport industry thing.”


Relaying similar tales, Mr Shirley says that while bodies such as the RTF can offer general guidelines and recommendations, the real coping work is being facilitated within transport firms at the coal face.

“All the smart companies know they have to look after their drivers and have employed all manner of support systems to help the situation. Obviously those that do are good employers and those that don’t feel the pain more,” he notes. “Giving leave, looking after families, all of the pastoral care that human resources can provide in situations like this to make sure that people aren’t just left isolated and unsupported – it is really just support in all manner of forms.”


Given such concerns, a proposed bylaw to convert a range of temporary lower speed limits on the alternative Picton–Christchurch route into permanent limits has been welcomed by the trucking fraternity.

“They [the New Zealand Transport Agency] have looked at all the potential trouble spots and choke points and put in areas of speed restrictions [on what used to be open road]. However, an ongoing problem is the number of motorists crossing double-yellow lines on that route,” says Mr Shirley.

Adds Mr Carr: “My view is those roads aren’t designed for the weights that we’re putting over them, so the only way to protect them is to slow down. It goes against every bit of my grain, but if we don’t take the longer-term view, we’ll break the roads and no one will have anything. It’s better to slow down and lose a couple of hours so that everything is working.”

The bylaw proposal, which was drafted by the NZTA in light of current emergency speed limits nearing the end of their six-month legal term, was to conclude its consultation phase in early May, with a decision on any changes to speed limits to be announced mid-June.


Another pleasing development for the sector is the government’s recent announcement it is investing $60 million to upgrade the alternative highway. These progressive works include widening several sections of road, ongoing resealing, installing several new Bailey bridges alongside existing one-way bridges, installing traffic signals on several one-way bridges, and using radars and webcams to measure traffic volumes and provide travel updates.

Describing the upgrade as “vital”, Mr Carr ironically adds: “Nobody ever thought we would need it. It just shows you the strategic need for alternatives when calamities happen.

“There are parts where the road is so narrow you can’t get two trucks through side by side. When no one else was on it, the trucks would sit more in the middle of the road and cruise along, but now they are sitting on the edges, because traffic is coming both ways, and the edges are starting to break away. The centre part of the road is also starting to break up.”

Both parties have also welcomed the government’s recent $812 million commitment to reinstate State Highway 1 between Picton and Christchurch, with Mr Carr describing as “nuts” any suggestion a new route could have instead been forged.

“There are something like seven fault lines running through that area and a whole lot of mountains made of very solid rock. I don’t know how you could conceivably build any type of cost-effective alternative, given the topography and geology of the place. It would be a huge cost,” he says.

“We’ve never had a problem before and the chances are we’ll never have another one – or maybe just another one. Building along the coastline is relatively easy compared to building through the mountains.”


Also welcoming the government’s confirmation that investment was not coming from the National Land Transport Fund, Mr Shirley says that while it was “healthy” to first take a greenfields approach, ultimately “there is no alternative”. He also embraces the opportunity presented by the rebuild to deliver an upgraded coastal route.

In parting, Mr Shirley reflects on the “unsung story” in the post-Kaikoura earthquake environment. “New Zealanders don’t appreciate just how severe potentially that incident was in terms of disruption and how our sector – and also the shipping industry and rail – has actually just made things happen, largely behind the scenes. A tremendous effort has gone in to making things work – it is a huge accomplishment to have kept the logistics task going.”

Noting that Auckland–Christchurch deliveries have gone from requiring about four-and-a-half days to now up to 12 days, Mr Carr adds: “The general public have no idea of the difficulties that they potentially face if their life and business are dependent on traffic between Picton and Christchurch. The supply chain is hanging by a thread.”

Iain MacIntyre is an award-winning journalist who specialises in transport issues within New Zealand i.macintyre@xtra.co.nz

Government to allocate $11 billion to new infrastructure

The government has announced it will allocate $11 billion in new capital infrastructure over the next four Budgets, in addition to funds already included in agency baselines – a move welcomed by the transport industry.

Finance Minister Steven Joyce says New Zealand is growing faster than it has for a long time and adding more jobs all over the country: “That’s a great thing, but to keep growing, it’s important we keep investing in the infrastructure that enables that growth.”

Mr Joyce says that the focus will be on the infrastructure that supports growth, with capital investment in Budget 2017 being increased to $4 billion, including $812 million for reinstating State Highway 1 north and south of Kaikoura.

“We are investing hugely in new schools, hospitals, housing, roads, and railways. This investment will extend that run-rate significantly, and include new investment in the justice and defence sectors as well.”

The capital commitment in Budget 2017 will represent the biggest addition to the government’s capital stock in decades. “To put that into context, the net new capital allocated in the last four Budgets was $4.8 billion, of which $4.1 billion was funded through the proceeds of the mixed ownership model programme,” Mr Joyce says.

“In Budget 2016 we were forecasting just $3.6 billion in new capital spend between Budget 17 and Budget 20, compared to $11 billion now, and that’s an additional spend on top of investments already planned by the government,” he explains.

“If you add the government’s budgeted new capital investment together with the investment made through baselines and through the National Land Transport Fund, the total is around $23 billion over the next four years, or an average of nearly $6 billion per year. And we want to extend that further, with greater use of public-private partnerships, and joint ventures between central and local government and private investors.”


Stephen Selwood, CEO of Infrastructure New Zealand, says the further $11 billion in new capital infrastructure is very welcome. “This is a massive increase and the largest capital investment commitment by any government since the 1970s, but it must be said that New Zealand’s growth challenge is the highest it has ever been, and meeting population demands requires the services for a city larger than Nelson to be added every year,” he notes.

“Added to the growth challenge is New Zealand’s historic under-investment in infrastructure. The reality is that it would not be difficult to spend $11 billion in 2017 alone.”

Mr Selwood points out the government’s commitment to the Kaikoura rebuild, along with its $1.5 billion contribution to Auckland’s City Rail Link and a further $1.5 billion on the East-West Link, a billion more on each of Mill Road, the northern busway extension and the northwestern busway, $400 million on Penlink, plus state highway improvements in the regions is enough to consume all $11 billion, “let alone much-needed investment in health, education and housing nationwide,” he adds. “To get full value out of national resources, the government is going to need to use its funding to unlock private investment.”


Road Transport Forum chief executive Ken Shirley says the government’s decision to fund $11 billion of new capital infrastructure over and above existing projects is a welcome response to New Zealand’s infrastructure pressures. “With our growing population and expanding economy, the burden on our transport infrastructure is becoming acute. The freight task alone is expected to increase by around 70% over the next 25 years,” he adds.

“While the government’s announcement is a substantial allocation of funding, it is no more than is necessary to catch up on our significant infrastructure deficit. The devil will be in the detail of course, but the transport industry looks forward to Budget Day and more information on where the first $4 billion will be spent.”

Mr Shirley describes the government’s $812 million commitment to rebuild State Highway 1 through Kaikoura as “an absolute necessity” for the long-term viability of freight between Picton and Christchurch. “It is pleasing that the commitment extends to work on making the route more resilient,” he adds.

Earthworks underway for Ruakura inland port

Waikato-Tainui held a blessing ceremony and turned the first soil for the Ruakura inland port on 28 March (L–R): Tania Simpson (TGH director), Tukoroirangi Morgan (Te Arataura member and TGH director), Kiingi Tuheitia (with the ceremonial shovel), Chris Joblin (TGH CEO), Hemi Rau (TGH director) and Rahui Papa (Te Arataura chairman)


Tainui Group Holdings (TGH), the intergenerational investor for Waikato-Tainui, has commenced foundational earthworks for the first stage of its inland port at Ruakura.

After a number of years on the drawing board and in the planning rooms, TGH chief executive Chris Joblin says it is an exciting milestone for the overall 480 ha project on the eastern boundary of Hamilton.

“As a long-term, staged development project likely to span 20–30 years, Ruakura will deliver great benefits for the region’s exporters and importers, as well as opportunities for Waikato-Tainui people, and has the potential to support 6000–12,000 jobs within the precinct once fully built,” Mr Joblin says.

The site was blessed by Kiingi Tuheitia in a tribal ceremony attended by Waikato-Tainui leaders and tribal members on 28 March.


TGH has appointed New Zealand-owned infrastructure company Fulton Hogan as contractor to carry out the initial works covering the first 7 ha of what will eventually be a 31 ha inland port with the capacity to handle around 1 million TEUs (20 foot container equivalents) per year when fully built.

“Foundational earthworks will involve trucking crushed rock into the site to preload the area to be used for the container marshalling yard. It will take around 12 months for the ground to settle before pavement layers, a rail siding, noise wall, screen planting and services can be completed,” Mr Joblin says.

Construction of sediment control structures and widening of site entry points are also underway and are expected to be completed by the middle of May, at which point the contractors will start stripping topsoil in preparation for the importing and placement of preload material from June.


Fulton Hogan Waikato regional manager Kerry Watkins says the company is pleased to be a partner with a project of national significance. “As we move into the initial works, keeping people safe on the roads and on the site is a top priority,” Mr Watkins says.

“We take the health and safety of our people and communities very seriously. Fulton Hogan has a zero harm policy and a commitment to safe public operations. Together with TGH, we will monitor feedback to ensure safe and courteous truck operations on public roads and seek to minimise impacts on neighbours,” he says.

Extra safety measures will include temporary traffic management warning signs, and speed restrictions.


TGH is now in consultation with a range of potential customers and tenants for the inland port and adjoining logistics hub which will provide ‘port neutrality’ between Ports of Auckland and Port of Tauranga.

“The site will have excellent connections to the Main Trunk Line and to the new Waikato Expressway via a full diamond interchange,” Mr Joblin says.

TGH expects to appoint a world-class port operator in mid-2017 following an RFP (request for proposal) process which is currently underway, and plans to commence initial operations at the inland port in the first half of 2019.


Situated around 3 km from the Hamilton CBD, Ruakura will become New Zealand’s largest integrated logistics, commercial and lifestyle development. The core of the development is the 31 ha inland port, which is set for completion in 2020. Adjacent to the inland port will be a 60 ha logistics precinct to accommodate a range of substantial warehouse and distribution businesses.

Beyond this are proposed precincts for light industry, innovation, residential and retail activities, with around 50 ha of green space for amenity, environmental protection and recreation.

For further information, visit www.ruakura.co.nz

New cruise ship berth to be built at Lyttelton

A new $56 million cruise ship berth will be built in Lyttelton, with the plans released by the Lyttelton Port Company on 1 May being welcomed by the Christchurch City Council.

The new berth will be the first custom-built cruise ship facility for Christchurch and will be able to accommodate some of the largest cruise liners from around the world.

“The cruise ship berth represents a massive investment in the future of Christchurch and the wider region,” says Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel. “Cruise ships bring a lot of life and economic activity into the city, so it is great that Christchurch will have a dedicated facility.”

With Lyttelton unable to host cruise ships for the last few years, cruise ships have been berthing in Akaroa which has put tremendous pressure on the small town’s amenities and infrastructure.

“I’d like to pay tribute to the community there that has enabled Christchurch to stay connected to the cruise industry. This announcement will bring some relief to them,” Ms Dalziel says. “I would also like to acknowledge the tremendous amount of work that has gone into both the cruise ship berth and the wider Lyttelton Port Recovery Plan so far.”


The cruise ship berth has been designed to accommodate cruise ships of the size of the world’s largest, the MS Oasis of the Seas. That ship is 362 m long, weighs 225,282 tonnes, and carries around 5400 passengers and 2394 crew.

A council working party was set up to investigate options for hosting cruise ships in Lyttelton and a business case was prepared to assess its public value. Christchurch City Council made the decision to fund the project through the Lyttelton Port Company, and the council will continue to receive the current level of dividend from the port company.

“This is a huge project for the city and we are happy to be able to bring cruise ships back to Lyttelton in time for the 2019–2020 cruise season,” Lyttelton Port Company board chairman Trevor Burt says. “The berth will future-proof Christchurch as a cruise destination of choice for the next few decades, with the capacity to accommodate the largest ships coming to our part of the world.”


The cruise ship industry was worth $484 million to the New Zealand economy in the 2015–2016 year and is forecast to grow to $490 million in the 2016–2017 season. Cruise New Zealand board member Tony Petrie says the cruise ship industry is continuing to develop rapidly. “We have seen a dynamic increase in the volume of guests visiting New Zealand, so it’s important that Christchurch has the facilities to offer a gateway to the Canterbury region for all ship sizes,” Mr Petrie says.

“Before the 2010 and 2011 earthquakes, cruise ships were able to berth in Lyttelton, so bringing this facility back to Lyttelton by way of a custom-built cruise pier will provide an attractive arrival experience for cruise ship visitors and a boost for Canterbury’s tourism industry, as well as retail businesses in Christchurch.”

$548m for rail around New Zealand

$548m for rail around New Zealand

Budget 2017 will invest $548 million of new capital funding to maintain and upgrade New Zealand’s rail network, supporting freight movement, exporters, tourism and public transport, Transport Minister Simon Bridges says.

$450 million of that funding will be invested in KiwiRail over the next two financial years.

“KiwiRail has achieved significant productivity and efficiency improvements over the past two years, despite the challenges of the November 2016 earthquake and the Midland Line fire,” Mr Bridges says.

“Budget 2017 investment in New Zealand’s rail infrastructure and systems will ensure that KiwiRail can improve its resilience and reliability, while continuing to support tourism, freight and export industries.

“The Government wants to put the rail network on a longer-term sustainable footing. In the year ahead we will be conducting a wider review of KiwiRail’s operating structure and longer-term capital requirements.

“Restoring the South Island Main Trunk Line is a key priority for the Government. KiwiRail has been making excellent progress clearing slips, obstructions, and reinstating the rail track so that this essential connection can open by the end of the year,” Mr Bridges says.

“Budget 2017 will support KiwiRail by making funds available for this essential reinstatement work to continue while their insurance claim is finalised.”

The Government is also investing $98.4 million in Wellington’s metro rail network.

“This investment acknowledges the importance of a functional, safe and reliable public transport rail network in the Wellington region,” Mr Bridges says.

This funding will allow the replacement of the remaining timber poles and overhead wires that provide power for trains on the Hutt Valley, Melling and Johnsonville rail lines.

Taken together with the Government’s funding for Auckland’s City Rail Link (CRL), Budget 2017 allocates nearly $1 billion towards rail infrastructure.

“The Government has invested over $4.2 billion in rail since taking office in 2008 and this further very big investment in New Zealand’s rail network will support and strengthen this important part of New Zealand’s transport system,” Mr Bridges says.

The 16 most expensive cities in the world for commuting to work – Two are in NZ!

Warning – a sense of outrage may follow reading this.

Next to housing, transportation is one of the largest recurring expenses people face. In a major metropolis, that likely means a fair amount of time packed into the subway, trolley, or bus getting a little too acquainted with your fellow city dwellers.

The good news: It’s better for the environment, and, depending on where you live, it may be cheaper than owning a car.

The bad news: It can still be really expensive.

In London, the most expensive city in the world for public transportation, you’ll need to shell out nearly $175 for a month of riding the Tube. In New York City, a monthly transit pass costs about $120.

That’s according to a recent report by Deutsche Bank, which analyzes the cost of living and compares prices among the largest cities around the world.

The report sources prices from Expatistan, a site that tracks cost-of-living expenses in over 200 countries, for a “monthly ticket public transport” in nearly 50 cities.

Here are the 16 most expensive cities in the world for commuting via public transportation each month.

All prices are in US dollars.

16. San Francisco, United States — $86.10

15. Berlin, Germany — $87.20

14. Frankfurt, Germany — $88.50

13. Stockholm, Sweden —$90.70

12. Wellington, New Zealand — $101.20

11. Chicago, United States — $102.10

10. Toronto, Canada — $102.70

9. Melbourne, Australia — $105.50

8. Zurich, Switzerland — $108.40

7. Sydney, Australia — $108.40

6. Amsterdam, Netherlands — $108.60

5. Tokyo, Japan — $110.70

4. New York City, United States — $117.70

3. Auckland, New Zealand — $122.90

2. Dublin, Ireland — $131.60

1. London, United Kingdom — $174

Coastal shipping trade still ahead in quake aftermath

Repairs to Kaikoura's road and rail links are well under way with a deadline for completion at the end of 2017.

Repairs to Kaikoura’s road and rail links are well under way with a deadline for completion at the end of 2017.
 Coastal shipping trade out of Auckland nearly doubled after the North Canterbury earthquakes in November 2016.

But the big test will come when the Kaikoura state highway and the rail line come back into operation at the end of the year.

Steve Chapman, the chief executive of coastal shipping company Pacifica, said there were weekly fluctuations but he estimated the increase had settled back to about 20 per cent to 25 per cent above pre-quake levels.

Don Braid the managing director of Mainfreight which uses all forms of transport in its freight forwarding business.

Don Braid the managing director of Mainfreight which uses all forms of transport in its freight forwarding business.
 “It’s been seven months and shipping agents have got used to the frequency of coastal shipping so I think it will remain where it is.”

“We’ve been able to put some freight on international ships travelling south,” Chapman said.

The Shipping Federation thinks the Government could be doing more to help coastal shipping. A Pacifica Shipping vessel ...

Pacifica rival, KiwiRail, was among the winners in this year’s Budget with the Government committing $450 million in capital funding, which may skew cargo movements back to rail via the interisland ferries

The commitment was critical to fund the uninsured portion of the main north line between Picton and Christchurch.

The financial effect of the earthquakes on freight forwarders may become evident when Mainfreight reports it annual result soon, against a strongly rising share price in recent weeks.

Chief executive Don Braid said Mainfreight’s mix of rail, truck and shipping was commercially sensitive.

Meanwhile, Auckland, Tauranga, Napier and Lyttelton ports are enjoying a surge in business.

Lyttelton Port’s container volumes were 15 per cent ahead in the second half of 2016 – and up 35 per cent in December 2016.

It was because freight was being sent direct via shipping from Auckland to Lyttelton after the Kaikoura railway line was knocked out, chief executive Peter Davie said.

Shipping Federation chief executive Annabel Young said the the big lesson from last year’s earthquakes was how quickly the market could move.

“Overnight the amount of freight going through Auckland almost doubled as freight forwarders looked to coastal shipping to move goods south.

“Port of Tauranga couldn’t believe it. Napier Port was also a big winner because of the effects on Wellington’s container terminal. Cargo bound for Wellington has been landing at Napier and trucked south.

“Napier has had to scale up operations in six months that they expected would take about seven years,” Young said.

Heavy reliance on trucking allowed for quick overnight movement of goods but the earthquakes forced businesses to re-prioritise fast delivery for perishables, Young said.

The Shipping Federation has reservations about the rivalry and investment each port is making.

Young said the future of maritime transport relied on feeder ships taking cargo from smaller ports to larger ports.

Dredging to allow deeper drafts is a waste of rate-payer money in most ports, she said.

“Aggregation of cargoes at inland ports is the trend. This increases the likelihood of fewer big ports servicing international routes.

“It also makes over-capitalised ports with high port charges unattractive to exporters and importers.”

A refrain from the sector, and Wellington commercial landlords, is that Wellington’s CentrePort subsidises its port operations from its property developments on reclaimed waterfront land.

The latest Shipping Federation report said one of the biggest impediments to coastal shipping is lack of government interest because it owns rail and road infrastructure.

About 15 per cent of New Zealand’s inter-regional freight is carried by sea and domestic freight volumes are forecast to more than double by 2040.

Even with massive investment in land transport this increase can’t be accommodated by road and rail alone, Young said.

It wants an integrated port policy at government level including helping out with maritime infrastructure.

“A floating dry dock is a good example of where government agencies should assist. Operators are currently using dry docks in Singapore as the closest option.

The Federation argues coastal shipping reduces heavy trucks numbers, cost of roads, congestion, greenhouse gas emissions, and improves safety.

The Ministry of Transport estimates the cost of shifting a standard container door-to-door from Auckland to Christchurch by ship is $850 to $1300, compared with $2200 to $3000 by road, or $1300 – $1900 by rail, because of fuel efficiency.

 – Stuff

Uber Freight launched to level the playing field for America’s truck drivers

Uber Freight is a new service that pairs up trucking companies, including independent operators, with loads that need to be hauled from one place to another. The app looks a lot like the main Uber app, but it’s targeted towards vetted and approved drivers, who can browse for nearby available loads, see destination info, distance required and payment upfront and then tap to book.

The idea is to streamline something that used to take hours of back and forth negotiation via phone or other communication, putting it in a simple workflow with confirmation of job acceptance and rates paid within a few seconds.

Uber also notes that they’re addressing another big pain point when it comes to small trucking companies and independent drivers: payment speed. Uber Freight is committed to paying within a few days, fee-free, for every single load. When things don’t go as planned or drivers have to wait longer than expected, they pay for that too.

World Container Index Down 3.6%

The World Container Index assessed by Drewry, a composite of container freight rates on 8 major routes to/from the US, Europe and Asia, is down by 3.6% to 1500.87/40ft container [updated Thurs, 18 May 17].

Two-year spot freight rate trend for the World Container Index:

The composite index is down by 3.6% this week and up by 43% from the same period of 2016.
The average composite index of the World Container Index assessed by Drewry for the year to date is US$1,587/40ft container, $118 lower than the 5-year average of $1,705/40ft container. It is 43% higher than a year ago.

The spot rates on the Asia-Europe trade continue to tumble, and as a result, the World Container Index on Shanghai to Rotterdam declined by 3% or $58 to $1,811 for a 40ft box. Similarly, GRIs on the Transpacific trade are also losing ground, but at a slower pace.

This week, the WCI on Shanghai-Los Angeles and Shanghai-New York fell by another 9% and 3% respectively.

Source: Drewry