Biggest cruise season looms, but NZ hasn’t signed global treaty to reduce its ship emissions

A record 123 cruise ships are set to visit Wellington this year, but New Zealand isn’t yet contributing to reducing global ship emissions. 

New Zealand and Mexico are the only two countries in the OECD not signed to an international agreement requiring ships to run on cleaner fuel. 

Associate Minister for Transport Julie Anne Genter said  New Zealand was a party to MARPOL, (The International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships) however previous governments had chosen not to sign up to Annex VI which regulated shipping emissions affecting human health and the climate.  

Officials had investigated “the pros and cons” of signing up to Annex VI and the Ministry of Transport had recently finished consultation.

“I expect to take a recommendation to Cabinet on this matter before the end of this year.”

Last year, emissions from a single cruise ship visit in Wellington were the equivalent to more than  200,000 extra cars per day, according to Emission Impossible director Dr Gerda Kuschel. 

Her calculation found that was nearly more emissions than all of Wellington’s cars in one day.

The Annex VI will be in place for those nations signed to the agreement, currently 91,  from January 1, 2020. 

The type of fuel burned by diesel engines in ships typically results in higher amount of various pollutant gases and ultra-fine particle emissions, compared to car engines.
JOHN BISSET/STUFFThe type of fuel burned by diesel engines in ships typically results in higher amount of various pollutant gases and ultra-fine particle emissions, compared to car engines.

It would mean all cruise ships visiting New Zealand ports would need to meet much tighter requirements, she said. 

“That might mean that although more ships come here, the local impact might be much reduced due to lower sulphur fuels.” 

WellingtonNZ General Manager David Perks said it was “a very interesting time” for how to balance economic growth with climate change. 

New Zealand is one of just two countries in the OECD not signed to an international agreement requiring ships to run on cleaner fuel.
MONIQUE FORD/STUFFNew Zealand is one of just two countries in the OECD not signed to an international agreement requiring ships to run on cleaner fuel.

“It’s crucial that the tourism industry becomes leaders in sustainability as people become increasingly conscious of the emissions their travel produces,” he said. 

“They want to know change is being made in the destinations they visit to make it worthwhile.”  

MOT International Connections manager Tom Forster said cabinet would be receiving advice on potential Annex VI accession. 

“A decision to accede would be followed by a treaty examination, including a select committee process. 

Shipping has been highlighted by the Ministry for the Environment as an emerging issue, but the country has no regulation on air quality from ships.
KEVIN STENT/STUFFShipping has been highlighted by the Ministry for the Environment as an emerging issue, but the country has no regulation on air quality from ships.

“This will provide interested parties with a further opportunity to express their views.” 

The 123-ship season beats 110 in 2019 and 82 in 2018. In 2007-2008 just 38 cruise ships berthed in Wellington. 

Shipping has been highlighted by the Ministry for the Environment as an emerging issue, but the country has no regulation on air quality from ships.

The Marlborough District Council has previously said there would be strong benefits for the region – in particular Picton and the Marlborough Sounds – if New Zealand signed the global agreement.

StraitNZ CEO Louise Struthers said Bluebridge supported the signing of the treaty, and would be able to comply with any new requirements within its existing fleet. 

Interislander general manager Walter Rushbrook said KiwiRail made a submission in favour of adopting Annex VI. 

Kiwirail is in the process of replacing its ferry fleet with two new larger ferries, which will be capable of complying with international standards, including the Annex VI. 

“Having long-term certainty of fuel and emissions regulations is necessary as we embark on a major fleet investment programme.” 

Stuff

Whopping $5.3 billion increase in the value of the national rail freight network

Crown financial statements detail whopping $5.3 billion increase in the value of the national rail freight network to $6.3 billion with valuation done on a public benefit basis rather than a commercial basis

A change in the way the national rail network is valued means the Government has increased its carrying value by a whopping $5.3 billion to $6.3 billion.

This is disclosed in the Crown’s June year financial statements released on Tuesday.  

“Following a review to consider the context of KiwiRail’s purpose within a multi modal transport system, the underlying assumption of the benefits of rail were reframed as: ‘Rail enables access and mobility, transporting people and goods to where they need to go, supporting productivity and business growth, reducing emissions, congestion and road deaths, and strengthening social and cultural connections between communities’. As a consequence, a valuation for the rail freight network that only reflected its cash generating potential was no longer appropriate,” Treasury says.

“These financial statements include the valuation of all the rail infrastructure using an Optimised Depreciated Replacement Cost [ODRC] method. To the extent that the assets deliver public benefits and would be replaced, a replacement cost approach is used, depreciated to reflect the extent the assets are through their useful lives. The valuation is ‘optimised’ by reporting components within the network that do not produce benefits, as surplus assets that are measured at their recoverable amount.”

“The impact is to increase the value of the rail freight network to $6.3 billion compared to a value of $1.0 billion that would have been reported under the previous basis,” says Treasury.

The Crown accounts also show a reversal of KiwiRail’s previous impairment expense of $2.6 billion, resulting from the change in the valuation approach of the rail network from a commercial basis to a public benefit basis.

Treasury notes the rail network comprises around 3,700 kilometres of track, excluding yards and sidings, and is used primarily for freight transport. It is, however, also used by KiwiRail for long distance passenger transport and access is provided to the Greater Wellington Regional Council and Auckland Transport regional authorities for metro passenger services. The rail infrastructure earns revenue from freight and long distance passenger charges. Network access charges are also collected from the two regional authorities for the metro services.

“Since the restructuring of KiwiRail as a profit-oriented entity in 2012, the rail network infrastructure used for freight services, including dual use assets required for freight operations, has been valued at fair value, reflecting the recoverable amount that could be expected to be received from a third party in an orderly transaction. The portion of dual use assets not required for freight operations and metro only assets were reported in these financial statements at an optimised depreciated replacement cost basis, reflecting the community benefits of this investment rather than treating this portion as a cash generating asset at a whole-of-Government level. Those valuation approaches reflected the government purpose in holding the assets,” Treasury says.

KiwiRail ‘remains a profit-oriented entity’

Treasury notes last year’s financial statements disclosed that the Government had initiated a rail review. This recognised the challenges in making investment decisions, marrying the duality of commercial “for profit” activities aligning a State Owned Enterprise’s commercial mandate with other “public benefit” activities that deliver social benefits instead of commercial returns, and integrating short-term funding commitments with investment decisions for long-life assets.

“The findings of the Review of Rail were reported to Ministers in May 2019, who noted that all rail, including freight, contributes to national and regional economic growth and reduces emissions and congestion, reduces road deaths and injuries, facilitates wider social benefits, and provides resilience and connection between communities. The report also noted the necessity of continued commercial disciplines and focus of KiwiRail to support efficiency in asset management, and to drive commercial returns from the provision of freight, property and tourism operations,” Treasury says.

Cabinet agreed in principle “to a resilient and reliable rail system to deliver on the outcomes for transport and wider benefits the Government seeks.” Budget decisions were made on this basis.

“As a consequence it is no longer appropriate at the whole-of-government level to reflect the rail freight network as a cash generating asset, ie, at its recoverable amount, given the wider reasons for the Crown’s investment in the rail infrastructure. This changed view at a whole-of-government level does not affect the treatment of the assets in the financial statements of KiwiRail itself, as it remains a profit-oriented entity.”

$100 million northern railway upgrade spurs controversy

MERRA committee member Stuart Windross says the railway upgrade is “just the ticket.”

Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters and Regional Development Minister Shane Jones last week announced a nearly $100 million investment to revive the railway between Auckland and Whangarei, but the response has been mixed.

The planned work will include replacing or upgrading almost a third of the line, maintenance work on 13 tunnels, replacing five aging bridges and improving numerous drains and culverts.

The 181km line runs from Auckland to Helensville, through Kaipara Flats, Wellsford, Topuni, Kaiwaka, Maungaturoto and up to Whangarei.

KiwiRail group chief executive Greg Miller said decades of decline had caused damage that would have closed the rail line for business within a year.

“Currently, 95 per cent of the freight in Northland is moved by road and the improvements to the North Auckland line (NAL) are the foundation for addressing that imbalance.”

Logistics industry magnates Don Braid, of Mainfreight, and former Whangarei Mayor Stan Semenoff, of Semenoff Transport, both came out in support of the upgrade, saying their companies would investigate using rail transport solutions.

But Northland MP Matt King says the announcement shows the government doesn’t have its transport investment priorities straight.

“Rail is not commercially viable, and to throw money at it when 99 per cent of freight movement in the north is by road shows a complete disregard for common sense. Rail cannot compete with trucks, and businesses demonstrate this by voting with their feet,” he says.

“It’s pretty telling that despite much-needed state highway improvements, road is still the first choice for transport in and out of Northland. Unlike the Government, National is prepared to invest in a four-lane highway from Warkworth to Whangarei.”

Rodney Local Board member Colin Smith, whose town of Wellsford sits directly on the line, also says investment in rail is not practical.

Mr Smith points to the fact that cargo transported on trains still has to be loaded and unloaded to be moved by trucks on either end, which is inefficient and not necessarily an improvement on the industry’s carbon footprint.

“If they had any brains they would pull the rail out and turn that corridor into a highway for trucking. It would take all the trucks off the road and, thanks to a flatter incline, could have goods transported to and from Auckland within two hours.

“We are talking about the 21st century, not the 18th century. That rail was put in 100 years ago during the war when we didn’t have decent roads.”

But the rail upgrade has been welcomed by the Mahurangi East Residents and Ratepayers Association (MERRA), which has been lobbying for rail solution for transporting waste to and from Waste Management’s proposed Dome Valley landfill.

MERRA committee member Stuart Windross says the railway upgrade is “just the ticket.”

“Given the upgrade, we expect Kiwirail and Waste Management to work together to help take 451 return trips worth of trucks off the road.”

Stuart says once an application for a resource consent for the landfill has been made, MERRA will advocate for rail in subsequent hearings.

“The fuel burn is 20,000 litres per day for the rubbish trucks on the road. It’s my understanding that rail could reduce that by 65 per cent.”

KiwiRail says it aims to complete the majority of the NAL work within the next year.

Naval Architects appointed for new Interisland ferries

KiwiRail’s project to replace its aging Interislander ferry fleet with two new rail-enabled ferries has entered a new phase with the appointment of naval architects.

KiwiRail Chief Operating Officer – Capital Projects & Asset Development, David Gordon says Danish naval architects, OSK ShipTech AS will develop the design of the two new ships to meet KiwiRail’s requirements well into the future.

“The two new ferries will have a greater capacity for rail and road freight, and passengers than the existing three-ship fleet.

“We have also recently appointed the French-based BRS Group as our ship broker to help in the international search for potential suppliers of the vessels.

“The target is for the new ships to be ready for service in 2024.

“The first stage of the procurement process, a request for Expression of Interest in supplying the ships has just closed.

“The request for Expression of Interest is the first stage of what is expected to be a multi-phase, open competitive procurement process to supply the new ferries.

“In this year’s Budget the Government allocated $35m for progressing procurement of two new, rail enabled ferries that will replace Interislander’s aging Aratere, Kaitaki, and Kaiarahi ferries.”

Northland MP: Rail plan ‘a white elephant’, PGF funding a waste of money

This northward bound train took KiwiRail bosses, dignatories, regional development heads and business leaders for a ride after Friday's $85m announcement.
This northward bound train took KiwiRail bosses, dignatories, regional development heads and business leaders for a ride after Friday’s $85m announcement.


Among benefits from an upgraded railway line between Swanson, Auckland and Whangārei are Northland jobs, import and export growth, reduced heavy road traffic, lower emissions … and the list goes on.

That’s according to KiwiRail, which has been given $94.8 million from the Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) to get the 181km Auckland Northland Line (ANL) back on track and build its freight capacity.

KiwiRail chief executive Greg Miller and Regional Development Minister Shane Jones, who doles out the PGF ”putea” – after input from other ministerial committees and a dedicated panel of economic development heads – made the announcement on Friday.

If reaction to the news was anything to go by, plenty of sitting local government councillors, election candidates, economic agencies, transport companies and Northland businesses are thrilled.

But Northland’s National MP Matt King is not.

King said the Government has not got its transport investment priorities straight, and said the railway is a white elephant.

“Rail is not commercially viable, and to throw money at it when 99 per cent of freight movement in the North is by road shows a complete disregard for common sense. Rail cannot compete with trucks, and businesses demonstrate this by voting with their feet,” King said.

“This is a lacklustre attempt to shore up a dilapidated transport link that is way past its use-by date.

”National recognises this, and unlike the Government, is prepared to invest in a four-lane highway from Warkworth to Whangārei. As the local MP I hear it from everyone: Northlanders want and need safer and more modern roads.”

KiwiRail’s Miller would agree the line is dilapidated and past its use-by date, which is why nearly $95m is being spent on it, following detailed investigation into the work needed, costs and business case.

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Shane Jones, left, and Greg Miller at the mouth of the first tunnel, north of Kaupapapa, to be upgraded. Photo / Niall Robertson
Shane Jones, left, and Greg Miller at the mouth of the first tunnel, north of Kaupapapa, to be upgraded. Photo / Niall Robertson

The line would close in a year or two without an extensive upgrade. Miller said he has no doubt the improved line and more trains will be profitable for KiwiRail, producers and other businesses.

Economic development agency Northland Inc agreed it meant a “significant boost” for the region.

“It is imperative that we keep upgrading our infrastructure, and the work on the North Auckland Line will undoubtedly make Northland a more reliable, more connected region for our community,” acting chief executive Vaughan Cooper said.

“It is vital that we also take steps to address our over-reliance on the roads in Northland and reduce congestion and lower emissions.”

The improvement of transport infrastructure and services was identified as a key priority in the Tai Tokerau Northland Economic Action Plan (TTNEAP) launched in 2016 and refreshed in 2019.

Shane Jones promised work on the rail line will mean Northland jobs.

The work:
■ Track, sleepers and ballast: $53.1m
■ Replacing five of the 88 bridges: $16.2m
■ Repairs to 13 tunnels: $7.3m
■ Clearing drains and culverts: $9.5m
■ Stabilising nine embankments:$4.7m
■ Vegetation control: $0.8m
■ Review and improve Whangārei Rail Yard: $3.2m

Train on track for Northland with $95m Provincial Growth Fund ticket

Shane Jones puts his mark in concrete to commemorate the planned $95m rebuild of North Auckland Line. Photo / Lindy Laird
Shane Jones puts his mark in concrete to commemorate the planned $95m rebuild of North Auckland Line. Photo / Lindy Laird

Shane Jones wore a conductor’s cap and blew a whistle three times to get everyone on board the party train.

But the hundreds of central and local government politicians and hopeful candidates, KiwiRail bosses, business people, Māori representatives and rail lobbyists were already well on board with the news the Auckland to Whangārei line will be upgraded to the tune of $94.8 million.

The upgrade will be complete and freight trains back on the line by next September.

Jones, the Minister of Regional Development and conductor of the Provincial Growth Fund (PGF), and KiwiRail chief executive Greg Miller made the announcement at the Helensville railway station yesterday.

Some of the 181km line between Swanson and Whangārei is more than 150 years old, and the “newest” sections are more than 100 years old.

The line could not stay financially viable with maintenance work alone, Miller said; it needed a total upgrade or nothing. He predicted that, without the nearly $95 million from the PGF, the line would close in a few years.

Miller said there was no doubt the line would be profitable and good for shifting Northland’s produce.

In 2001, before the line’s “managed decline”‘, 1 million tonnes of cargo was railed along it.

Miller described in woeful tones today’s “worn-down track, tunnels falling apart, culverts sinking…”

“The North Auckland Line [NAL] has been in decline for decades and without this investment would have had to close in the near term. KiwiRail has already had to start strengthening one of the tunnels which could have closed the line within a year,” he said.

That tunnel, north of Kaukapakapa, was the destination for yesterday’s party train.

Jones made his mark on a concrete slab at the northern end of the 600m-long bridge.

While his indelible hand mark and signature testify to the Government’s provincial support policy, its commitment to helping things get on track in the regions, no one could talk up the significance of taking “a train up the motu” quite like Jones.

While the Northland-based politician was keen to see the Marsden Point rail link come on track as soon as possible, this $95m was “stage one,” he told the Northern Advocate.

“We’d have loved to include it this time around but KiwiRail told us you can’t have that link unless the main line is working. You can’t build the ribs unless the spine is strong.”

Miller also said the Marsden Pt link was likely to be “back to the table” before Christmas, once the much-awaited Upper North Island Transport review committee’s report was in hand.

“But today’s down-payment is an awesome one, thanks.”

He also said if the Marsden Pt link became “stage two”, the next move would be to get up to the railhead at Otiria, near Moerewa, to get the logs on the rail.

Earlier, by the quaint old Helensville station, hundreds of people had revelled in the announcement, in a marquee where stays fought furiously for freedom, aided and abetted by a strong wind racing over the flats beside the Kaipara Harbour.

The song at the end of Jones’ and Miller’s speeches, sung by KiwiRail kaumatua, bosses and staff, was a version of Woody Guthrie’s train riding anthem, Spirit of New Orleans, with a new chorus: “Good morning Aotearoa, how are you? Don’t you know me I’m your native son. I’m the train they call The Northern Explorer, I’ll be gone five hundred miles when the day is done.”

And while the North Auckland freight train is unlikely to travel 500 miles or kilometres in a day, the line’s upgrade will enable trains to speed up from the 40km/h the current condition dictates to 60km/h, shaving 1.5 hours off the five-hour trip from Whangārei to Swanson.

The extensive upgrading will include replacing 56km on a bed of 50,000 new sleepers, repairing 13 tunnels and lowering the floor level of some so taller, modern rolling stock can get through. Five of the 88 old, mostly wooden, bridges will be replaced, along with about 237 of the 950 culverts, embankments bolstered and safety and efficiency improvements made at the Whangārei rail yard.

The majority of the large crowd had travelled south from Northland to hear the news many say will be a game-changer for the region. They could have filled a few train carriages, had there been such a thing — but the message from KiwiRail was not to get too excited yet about passenger trains, they would come further down the track.

Upper North Island Transport committee chairman Wayne Brown was all smiles, repeating the often heard “game-changer” tag.

Kaipara District Deputy Mayor Peter Wethey said he was excited about business growth and community development that would occur in places like Maungaturoto, where there already was already infrastructure, railyards and room for growth.

“Who knows what’s going to spring off this? We’re already looking at an east-west connection to the main line.

“If we can take trucks off that highway and provide and efficient passenger and freight service, well, the sooner it can happen the better.”

Tony Savage, chair of the Great Northern Railway Charitable Trust, said in the future Whangārei would become a satellite of Auckland, a northern city where people lived but travelled on fast commuter trains to work in Auckland. In the meantime, the rail line would play an important role in growing Northland’s economy and its people’s quality of life, he said.

Northland rail line: KiwiRail boss says rail track would have closed within a year without Crown cash

The railway line from Auckland to Whangārei would have closed within a year without a $95 million injection announced on Friday, KiwiRail’s chief executive has revealed. 

But the funding still falls well short of the $1.3 billion needed to make Northland’s rail fully functional for freight, including a connection to Northport, Whangārei’s growing port at Marsden Point.

At a glitzy event at Helensville Railway Station on Friday, Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones announced $94.8m through the Provincial Growth Fund for upgrades on the 181km line between Swanson and Whangārei.

Jones told media the funding was “incredibly important”.

“We need a viable rail connection for the current and future growth of the north, because we are not in a position to completely rebuild the roads with the new freight coming out of the north,” he said.

“If you want more economic activity, investment, expansion and further growth in Northland we have got to invest in infrastructure.”

The work includes replacing or upgrading almost a third of the 100-year-old line, maintenance work on 13 tunnels, replacing five ageing wooden bridges, plus improvements to drains, culverts and embankments.

Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones and KiwiRail Group Chief Executive Greg Miller announce funding to maintain the Northland to Auckland rail line.
CHRIS MCKEEN/STUFFRegional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones and KiwiRail Group Chief Executive Greg Miller announce funding to maintain the Northland to Auckland rail line.

The funding also includes $3.2m to improve the Whangārei Rail Yard, making it safer and more efficient.

The funding is part of the Government’s $1b funding commitment to KiwiRail.

A business case released by the Ministry of Transport back in May noted the poor state of the Auckland to Northland line meant without significant investment it could become unsafe and have to close.

It also noted the line could generate more freight if Northport, at Marsden Point, expanded significantly.

A preferred upgrade pitched in the business case covered the North Auckland line as far as Otiria, north of Whangārei, with a branch line called the Marsden Point Link out to Northport.

However, the work announced Friday stopped short of Otiria and carried no mention of a link to Northport.SharePlay VideoSTUFFUpgrading the Northland rail line would cost $1.3 billion.

“We took some advice from KiwiRail, despite my megaphone approach,” Jones said.

“They were adamant – spend your initial pūtea on rehabilitating the spine and then, once the Wayne Brown report has been worked through by ministers and officials, make your second decision in terms of the branch out to Marsden Point.”

Former Far North Mayor Brown is chairman of the Upper North Island Supply Chain working group, which was reviewing freight and logistics in the area.

State Owned Enterprises Minister Winston Peters pulled no punches about the investment, saying it was needed to keep the rail line open.

Without the investment, the line to Whangārei would have become unsafe and closed within five years, Peters said.

“That’s unacceptable and unfair to the people of Northland.”

The improvements will see tunnels upgraded.
CHRIS MCKEEN/STUFFThe improvements will see tunnels upgraded.

However, KiwiRail Group Chief Executive Greg Miller indicated the line was in a worse state than that.

“This railway line would’ve closed inside 12 months, some of these tunnels are that old – 80 years with no funding whatsoever.”

KiwiRail had already had to start strengthening one of the tunnels, which could have closed the line within a year, Miller added.

“The north Auckland line has been in decline for decades.”

Miller added “quite a lot” needed to be done before commuters could use the link.

“The first thing you’ve got to do is establish a rescue plan, and until we build the infrastructure and set it up for freight transport we won’t be able to determine that,” he said.

Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones says the $94.8m rail investment will help improve freight services on the line and have direct benefits for Northland’s economy.
CHRIS MCKEEN/STUFFRegional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones says the $94.8m rail investment will help improve freight services on the line and have direct benefits for Northland’s economy.

Currently, KiwiRail runs just one service on the line each weekday. The freight train runs from Auckland to the Fonterra dairy factory at Kauri, north of Whangārei.

The rail journey takes seven hours each way, compared with three to four hours by road, according to a Ministry of Transport business case.

Miller said the line improvements would cut train travel times and make the line more resilient to weather events. 

“It gives more certainty for our customers and will make rail an option for Northland businesses and exporters to get their goods to market,” he said.

Northport, New Zealand's northernmost deep-water port at the mouth of Whangārei Harbour, is still awaiting a rail link.
NORTHPORTNorthport, New Zealand’s northernmost deep-water port at the mouth of Whangārei Harbour, is still awaiting a rail link.

“Transporting more freight on trains will reduce congestion on Northland roads, road maintenance costs and transport emissions for customers.”

Northland’s roads have the worst crash statistics in the country and more than 99 per cent of the region’s freight is moved by road.

Friday’s investment was welcomed by local transport operators, including former Whangārei mayor Stan Semenoff, who ran Northland’s largest transport company.

“It’s great to see a revival of rail taking place, following the long-term under-investment in the rail line.

“This will be significantly beneficial to the Northland local economy.”

Semenoff called the investment a “first great step forward”.

Brian Corban appointed KiwiRail Chair

The Minister for State Owned Enterprises Winston Peters and Minister of Finance Grant Robertson have announced the appointment of Mr Brian Corban as Chair of KiwiRail Holdings Limited and the New Zealand Railways Corporation (NZRC).

“Mr Corban is an able and experienced Chair who will bring strong Crown governance and senior commercial experience to the KiwiRail Board at a time of significant investment in rail,” said Mr Peters.

Mr Corban steps up from his previous role as Deputy Chair of the KiwiRail Board. He has been Acting Chair since the resignation of Mr Greg Miller who became Chief Executive.

He has experience in leading Crown companies through restructuring and deregulatory changes having been Chair of Genesis Energy, Chair of Radio New Zealand Ltd, and the Foundation Chair of Television New Zealand Ltd.

Mr Corban previously served as Deputy Chair of NZ Railways Corporation and KiwiRail in 2008, when it was in transition back to Crown ownership. Mr Corban has been awarded a CNZM and QSO and is a Distinguished Fellow of the Institute of Directors in New Zealand.

“I’m delighted to have the opportunity to lead KiwiRail during a period of transformation for New Zealand rail,” said Mr Corban.

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.