Port of Tauranga signs 30 year train agreement

Port of Tauranga Chief Executive, Mark Cairns, left, and Tainui Group Holdings Chief Executive, Chris Joblin, right.

Port of Tauranga and the TGH-subsidiary Port Ruakura LP today announced a long term partnership to support the development of the planned Ruakura Inland Port at Hamilton. 

The agreement allows Port of Tauranga’s cargo trains running between MetroPort Auckland and Tauranga to service Ruakura Inland Port, giving Waikato-based importers and exporters direct access to fast international shipping services calling at Tauranga.

Tauranga is the only port call for the biggest container ships visiting New Zealand.

Port of Tauranga chief executive Mark Cairns says the planned Ruakura Inland Port offers significant cargo handling capacity and scope to meet future needs.

The 480 hectare Ruakura estate has 192 hectares earmarked for logistics and industrial uses including the planned 30 hectare inland port. 

“The Ruakura development will provide a highly efficient rail hub in the Waikato by utilising our existing train services linking our MetroPort Auckland inland freight hub with Port of Tauranga, which is New Zealand’s international hub port and the main cargo gateway for the upper North Island,” he says. 

“It’s an excellent example of Port of Tauranga’s partnership approach to providing supply chain infrastructure beyond our Bay of Plenty hinterland.” 

Tainui Group Holdings Chief Executive Chris Joblin welcomed the long-term partnership on behalf of Port Ruakura LP. 

“This initial 30-year agreement with Port of Tauranga is a key step towards fulfilling our vision for Ruakura to unlock the golden triangle of Auckland, Hamilton and Tauranga for importers and exporters,” he says. 

“The agreement will see Port of Tauranga trains initially call at Ruakura four times daily and this is likely to grow. This service will underpin the significant supply chain savings we have been modelling with prospective customers and tenants of Ruakura,” he says.

The golden triangle already accounts for around half of all freight volumes in New Zealand and container volumes are forecast to grow 60 per cent in container volumes by 2042.

Port of Tauranga’s partner KiwiRail operates up to 86 trains per week between MetroPort Auckland and Tauranga, carrying up to 9000 TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units).

The route currently has unused capacity and the additional service stop will improve utilisation and reduce the number of trucks on roads.

The agreement provides Port of Tauranga with priority rail slots at the Ruakura facility for an initial term of 30 years.

Port Ruakura LP will provide the necessary infrastructure, including a rail siding, hardstand and cargo storage areas. 

Development of the Ruakura Inland Port is scheduled to follow the completion of an adjacent Hamilton section of the Waikato Expressway currently expected to be late 2021. 

KiwiRail CEO Greg Miller says the Upper North Island is a key growth region for KiwiRail and New Zealand. 

“This is another example of the supply chain collaborating with KiwiRail to design and deliver rail infrastructure to better connect New Zealand.”

Contractors to blame for Wellington’s latest train disruption

The contractors currently involved with Wellington’s train network upgrade will temporarily be no longer be working on one aspect of the project after faulty installation of a mast caused trains to grind to a halt.

KiwiRail says they take responsibility for the widespread disruption caused to Wellington train commuters today because of a fault to the overhead power lines in the Hutt Valley this morning. 

The outage was caused by a mast being installed incorrectly by contractors, which caused it to make contact with trains passing beneath it. 

KiwiRail Group chief operating officer Todd Moyle said what happened today is “unacceptable and we accept responsibility. The contractors involved will not be doing any more of that work until we have throughly investigated the cause of the incident, and ensured processes are in place to ensure it does not happen again.”

A $300 million improvment is  currently underway to improve the network to improve the reliability and capacity of the network which includes replacing the overhead power system, masts and wires that power the trains. 

Today’s train outage is the second for the city this month. 

Last month there were two outages. 

The 29 projects sharing multi-million-dollar grant for low emission transport ideas

The Warehouse, KiwiRail and Meridian Energy are among 29 organisations sharing a grant of $4.5 million from the Government for low emission transport projects. 

Energy and Resources Minister Megan Woods said it’s the largest round of funding delivered through the Government’s Low Emission’s Vehicles Contestable Fund so far. 

The grants will include $4.5 million from the Government, matched by $12 million from the private sector, the minister said on Thursday. 

“Smart investments like this are why under this Government the number of electric vehicles on our roads has nearly tripled. In October 2017, we had 5363 registered electric vehicles (EVs) compared to 15,453 now.”

The 29 projects granted funding range from increasing the number of availability of public charging stations to heavy electric truck trials. 

The Warehouse, for example, is getting a $257,287 grant to lease four electric trucks for daily home delivery function. The company plans to locate them in Auckland, Christchurch, Hawke’s Bay and Manawatu. 

Meridian Energy will get $150,000 to install up to 14 electric vehicle charging stations in businesses in Otago and Canterbury, to add to available charging infrastructure. 

KiwiRail – which was already given $1 billion in Budget 2019 – will get a $65,000 grant to install six electric vehicle chargers on three Interislander ferries to provide travellers with the ability to charge their electric cars and campervans. 

Kiwi Property Holdings will get $211,209 to install at least 43 charging stations at shopping malls including Sylvia Park and Lynn Mall in Auckland and The Base and Centre Place in Hamilton. 

ChargeNet NZ, which has built more than 100 charging stations across New Zealand, will receive three separate grants totalling $343,000, and will share a $318,500 grant with Orion NZ to connect South Island coasts to EVs. 

Green Party energy spokesperson Gareth Hughes said transport makes up 19 percent of New Zealand’s emissions, “so this work is critical if we are going to meaningfully act on climate change”.

“These grants are part of a broader work programme to bring emissions down in New Zealand by this Government and we welcome it.”

The full list of approved projects can be viewed here

The Government’s Low Emission’s Vehicles Contestable Fund has so far committed $20.9 million to 120 projects. That has been matched by $40.7 million in applicant funding. 

A further $3.1 million in Government funding is available under the current round. The next round opening in February 2020 will also include support for e-bike storage solutions. 

The Government proposed last month an incentive scheme offering discounts of up to $8000 for zero-emission, newly imported vehicles. But imported vehicles that emit heavy emissions would be stung with a fee up to $3000. 

National leader Simon Bridges said his petition against the proposed policy has reached 10,000 signatures in just over a week. 

Newshub.

New Zealand public transport system ‘not good enough’ – infrastructure chief executive officer

New Zealand’s public transport is constantly improving but still has a long way to go says Infrastructure NZ’s chief executive officer.

“I don’t think it’s good enough from a user perspective,” said Stephen Selwood on Wednesday.

“We’re constantly having to improve the system but any system like public transport where you’re using one [train] line any disruption is going to cause problems,” he told The AM Show.

Last week the derailment of a train in Wellington caused chaos for 20,000 commuters, and in June an electrical fault left all Auckland train services stopped dead in their tracks.

On top of these problems, Wellington buses are still struggling to recover from the 2018 contract switch which threw a number of services into disarray.

He says New Zealand’s issues aren’t special and problems with public transport are global.

The solution is more money – even though $4.5 billion has been given to improve Auckland’s central rail link.

But fixing “decades of underinvestment,” isn’t easy says Selwood.

“We do have to be patient, we are constantly improving but much more investment is required,” he said.

Selwood says the option of private funding should be investigated for roads and public transport.

“The whole transport system needs investment and we should be open to all possibilities [of funding].” 

Newshub.

RE-OPENING STRATFORD-OKAHUKURA LINE PRIORITY FOR KIWIRAIL CEO

A $40 million project to reopen the mothballed Stratford to Okahukura rail line is a priority for new KiwiRail chief executive Greg Miller.

The line, shut since a derailment in 2009, is the only alternative north-south rail link should the main trunk line through National Park ever be shut by a natural disaster. It is also a commercial opportunity for Fonterra, forestry companies and other firms looking for a faster flow of Taranaki exports north to Auckland or Tauranga.          

Miller says the freight volume relying on the main trunk line through National Park is worth about $130 million a year. A major slip, flood or earthquake in the central North Island would disrupt all the country’s inter-island rail services, and freight and tourist flows north to, and south from, Hamilton and Auckland – the country’s two largest markets.

Discussions on reopening the 144-kilometre rail line that emerges north of Taumarunui are already underway, he says. If approved, it is probably a year-long project.

“That line, to me, has to reopen,” Miller told BusinessDesk.

“It’s $40 million but you can’t run a railroad unless you’ve got an ability to get around the country.

“So my task is to convince my board and shareholders that it is worth doing. And I believe it is.”

Government-owned KiwiRail has just re-opened the Napier to Wairoa line, mothballed in 2012 due to serious storm damage. It is still working on repairs from the November 2016 Kaikoura earthquake that shut the main South Island rail link for 10 months. It took almost two years to fully restore rail services.

That’s why, Miller says, reopening Stratford to Okahukura is “up there” in terms of his priorities.

“If we had a washout of some Kaikoura magnitude we would be wondering why we hadn’t done it,” he said. “To me, it’s a big priority for national resilience.”

Miller was speaking after the company and Wellington’s CentrePort marked the first extended log train from the Waingawa log yard south of Masterton.

The new service will increase daily log loads from 30 to 45 wagons and will boost annual log tonnage by about 100,000 tonnes to 370,000 tonnes. By March, the firms and local foresters are hoping to lift that to 60 wagons a day, taking another 100,000 tonnes of logs off the Remutaka Hill Road into Wellington annually.

Miller told guests – including forestry and regional economic development minister Shane Jones – that KiwiRail is moving only about 5 million of the 35 million tonnes of logs being harvested annually.

That number has to increase, not just because of the shortage of truck drivers, but also to contain emissions, road congestion and the under-appreciated extent of road damage from 50 tonne-plus trucks.

A study KiwiRail is undertaking for the New Zealand Transport Agency suggested a dollar spent on rail would avoid about $3.50 on road maintenance, he said.

“It’s going to be a number something like that. So it’s a significant benefit to the country.”

KiwiRail is establishing a log yard at Wairoa and is planning a $4 million yard at Dannevirke to help speed forestry volumes through the North Island.

Miller said the company hopes to complete a study for a log service from Gisborne by the end of the year, and is also looking at options to rail more logs from Murupara and Kawerau.

A re-opened Stratford to Okahukura line could also deliver Taranaki logs to Tauranga, along with product Fonterra currently rails from its Whareroa plant south of Hawera to Palmerston North before railing it north again.

Miller said it’s hard to know how quickly some of the new regional facilities will come together and how soon that extra volume will appear on KiwiRail’s manifest. About $60 million of container wagons are being re-purposed to carry logs.

“These types of operations take a long time to pull together between a whole raft of industries,” he told BusinessDesk.

“The tonnages are job by job, province by province, but we are certainly going after several million tonnes more.”

(BusinessDesk)

KiwiRail spend: Hundreds of new locomotives and wagons

The government has revealed more details of its billion-dollar KiwiRail spend, with hundreds of new locomotives and container wagons coming down the tracks.

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Photo: Flickr

Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters, Finance Minister Grant Robertson, Transport Minister Phil Twyford and Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones announced more details on the boost to rail this morning.

KiwiRail would be replacing and repurposing old and outdated stock, with more than 100 new locomotives and 900 new container wagons to be ordered and in place by the end of 2023.

Mr Peters said the government was addressing three decades of under-investment in the rail system.

“Part of the funding package will go towards replacing the tired and worn-out 50 year old locomotives in the South Island. We’ve kick-started the replacement process for more than 100 locomotives. New locomotives mean more reliable services and less maintenance costs.

“In addition, 900 flat-top container wagons will be replaced with new, larger ones in our busiest corridors, giving KiwiRail a more competitive freight service,” Mr Peters said.

Mr Jones said on top of the Budget’s $300 million for regional rail, the Provincial Growth Fund has already given $183m to rail to create growth in the regions.

“We’ve re-opened the Napier to Wairoa line, which will be crucial for the local forestry sector and is expected to replace 15,000 truck journeys each year on the region’s roads, making them safer and reducing wear and tear.”

Mr Robertson said the funding was only the beginning of a commitment to rail.

“The more freight we put on rail the better, it has a benefit for our emissions profile and also for the way that new Zealanders feel safe when they’re driving.

“Secondly, this will add to productivity. We know that if we can get out rail network humming across new Zealand we will be able to more efficiently move goods and people around the country.”

Mr Twyford said the country’s rail network has been in a “state of managed decline” for too long.

He said the government’s ‘Future of Rail’ report, due out in the coming weeks, would outline its 10 year programme of potential investment and benefits.

Key projects:

  • Continued work on the Kaimai Tunnel, Tauranga
  • Hoists and generators for Westfield and Southdown in Auckland
  • Parts replacement for engines, wagons
  • Freight reservation, booking and tracking system
  • Final payment on the 15 new trains in North Island – arrived October 2018
  • Replacing the oldest 48 long-haul and 52 short-haul locos
  • Replacing 900 container wagons – some of the older wagons will be repurposed for forestry haulage
  • Upgrades at Hutt Valley and Christchurch maintenance facilities
  • Design and procurement of two rail-enabled ferries

KiwiRail eyes Dannevirke freight hub

KiwiRail says a new rail hub proposed south-west of Dannevirke may be able to take 200,000 tonnes of logs off the roads.

Officials have been allocated $400,000 to evaluate the potential for the hub to take trucks off local roads and better integrate freight flows through Hawke’s Bay.

If approved, the state-owned rail operator will receive $4 million from the Provincial Growth Fund to develop the hub at Tapuata.

KiwiRail is developing a forestry hub at Wairoa as part of the reopening of freight services to Napier. It has a three-year project underway to develop a new freight hub near Palmerston North and last month increased capacity on its rail service to CentrePort in Wellington from the Waingawa log hub south of Masterton.

Deputy chief executive Todd Moyle said the company had been considering a hub near Dannevirke for some time and the staged approach is sensible. It will now work with the New Zealand Transport Agency and other agencies on the project.

Ernslaw One’s Titoki forest lies about 37 kilometres to the east between Te Uri and Weber and is already sending more than 50,000 tonnes of logs to Napier Port annually.

“With harvests expected to hit 200,000 tonnes in the coming years it makes sense to get as much of that volume on rail as possible,” Moyle said.

“Not only does rail have 66 percent fewer emissions per tonne than road transport, it would also reduce the number of logging trucks on the roads, improving road safety and saving in road maintenance costs which burden the local councils and NZTA.”

Log exports are booming, with many ports working to increase capacity to handle trees planted in the 1990s. Logs and timber are the country’s third-largest export and brought in $5.5 billion in the 12 months through April, 13 percent more than a year earlier.

KiwiRail is also investing heavily to capture more of that harvest for its own business. It is converting about 100 container wagons annually to carry logs and is expecting to receive an additional 200 new log wagons by the end of the year.

The rail funding was part of more than $40 million in funding announced today by Fletcher Tabuteau, under-secretary for regional economic development.

Just over half the PGF funding was allocated for upgrades of roads and bridges from Waipukurau to Porangahau to improve resilience and improve delivery of logs and farm produce to Napier.

A further $14.7 million has been allocated to Hawke’s Bay Regional Council to investigate development of storage in the Tukituki catchment to capture winter flows and replenish aquifers in Central Hawke’s Bay.

Minister signals further KiwiRail spend

The government is planning more investment in KiwiRail beyond the $1 billion allocated in this year’s budget.

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The government is reviewing how much further investment in the rail network might be needed. Photo: Wikicommons

Finance Minister Grant Robertson said the two-year funding was enough to make up for historic under-investment in rail infrastructure but to be transformational, the state-owned enterprise KiwiRail would need more money.

“More needs to be done if rail is to play its part as a truly important mode in a multi-modal system,” he said at a business meeting in Auckland.

Finance Minister Grant Robertson.

Grant Robertson Photo: RNZ / Dom Thomas

Mr Robertson would not be drawn on how much more money the government was willing to give KiwiRail.

“That will come through in future budgets. You will just have to wait.”

He said the government was reviewing how much further investment in the rail network might be needed.

“That report will be released very soon. What it indicates is that the under-investment in rail over a very long period will not just be solved in one budget.”

The KiwiRail investment fitted with the wellbeing focus because it would reduce carbon emissions by taking trucks off the roads, as well as connect the regions, Mr Robertson said.

“On all of the counts, I believe that an investment in rail fits with that [wellbeing focus].”

“There will continue to be investment in our roading network, that is vitally important as well, but rail has been a neglected to the point that it has been run down and does not work for New Zealand any longer.”

What’s happening with Auckland’s port?

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Photo: Patrik Stedrak/ 123rf

Everyone seems to have an opinion about its future –  the cars should be moved to Northport; the whole operation should all be moved and replaced with a stadium, apartments and parks; the city wants it to stay; Auckland needs the income.

The port supports 700 workers and another 160,000 jobs are estimated to hang on the port’s operations, including freight forwarding businesses.

A working group is due to report back to the government this month on the future of freight forwarding in the upper North Island. Creating a vehicle importing hub at Northport is one of a dozen options it is looking at. The group will give more detailed costings and recommendations in September.

The NZ Herald’s Auckland specialist Simon Wilson says the port is outgrowing its site and in 20 years will have to start thinking about moving – the move might take 50 years.

In 2017 the Ports came up with its own 30-year-master plan for its future. Chief executive Tony Gibson says it’s what the city wants but critics say they’d prefer parks, public space, or developments that will return more money for the prized waterfront land.

Despite opposition, the Auckland Council backed the plan and the Ports is pressing ahead with plans that include a new carpark.

The Ports’ latest interim report, for the six months to December last year, shows the number of cars through the port fell nearly 17 percent to 124,000 compared with the same period the previous year.

POAL blames declining car sales and the arrival of the brown marmorated stink bug on vehicle ships from Japan. The pest is a major threat to horticulture and steps taken to keep the bug out disrupted vehicle imports.

But Wilson says the transition to electric cars will also make a big difference to the Ports’ operations. One of the explanations for the current dip in imports is because people are waiting till the next wave of technology makes electric cars cheaper.

Wilson says we don’t know what will happen with the future of electric cars – we may even be able to manufacture them ourselves with 3D printing.

Sending cars to Northport just outside of Whangarei city is a pet project for New Zealand First.

It got a bit of a nudge last week when Kiwirail was urged by the government to apply for funds to fix Northland’s ageing railway lines. Winston Peters, when questioned about the damage to State Highway One that would be done by dozens more trucks every day hauling cars south, said upgraded rail lines would solve that problem.

Wilson says moving the cars to Northport will not only boost the region but free up prized waterfront land.

He’d like to see a stadium or museum there – and says the return from a retail and residential development would bring in far more than the annual $50 million dividend the port pays its owner, Auckland Council, every year.

Budget 2019 Transport portfolio: KiwiRail the big ticket item

The coalition government is aiming to rehabilitate KiwiRail with a $1 billion investment over the next two years.

KiwiRail DXC 5520 Diesel Locomotive passenger train waiting at station in Kaikoura, New Zealand.

Photo: 123RF

The government said that following privatisation, KiwiRail went into a ‘managed decline’ and Budget 2019 aims to rebuild it.

This includes $375m for new wagons and locomotives, $331m to invest in track and other supporting infrastructure, and $35m to begin the process of replacing the current Interislander ferries that are nearing the end of their lives.

The package also includes $300m from the Provincial Growth Fund allocated for investment in regional rail initiatives.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for State Owned Enterprises Winston Peters said rail services were a critical and valued part of New Zealand’s transport network.

“This funding will enable KiwiRail to become resilient and reliable through substantial investment in rail infrastructure, purchasing new locomotives and wagons, and beginning the process to replace the Interislander ferries.

“After 155 years of rail in New Zealand, the historic misstep of privatisation and the managed decline of the past decade, securing these assets for the future is especially gratifying,” he said.

Transport Minister Phil Twyford said it was the first step towards rebranding rail as “the backbone of a sustainable 21st-century transport network.”

“Rail makes a vital contribution to urban public transport. Moving more freight by rail is economically efficient, and reduces carbon emissions as well as deaths and serious injuries on our roads,” Mr Twyford said.

“Previous governments have taken a hands-off approach and left rail in a state of managed decline,” he said.

The Budget also provides $405.5m toward the Auckland City Rail Link.