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10th December 2018

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Kiwi Rail

Ports of Auckland to build hydrogen production and refuelling facility

In a first for Auckland, Ports of Auckland has committed to build a hydrogen production and refuelling facility at its Waitemata port. The company, and project partners Auckland Council, Auckland Transport and KiwiRail, will invest in hydrogen fuel cell vehicles including port equipment, buses and cars as part of the project.

Ports of Auckland Chief Executive Tony Gibson said “We have an ambitious target to be a zero emission port by 2040. In order to meet that target we need a new renewable and resilient power source for heavy equipment like tugs and straddle carriers, which are difficult to power with batteries. Hydrogen could be the solution for us as it can be produced and stored on site, allows rapid refuelling, and provides greater range than batteries.”

Ports of Auckland will fund the construction of a facility which will produce hydrogen from tap water. The process uses electrolysis to split water into hydrogen (which is then stored for later use) and oxygen, which is released into the air. Demonstration vehicles will be able to fill up with hydrogen at the facility, which will be just like filling up a car with CNG or LPG. Hydrogen is used in the fuel cell to create electricity which powers the car. The only by-product of the process is water.

“If this trial is successful”, said Mr Gibson, “the technology would have a very wide application. It could help Auckland and New Zealand towards energy self-sufficiency and our emission reduction goals. Trucks, trains and ferries could also run on hydrogen – something which is already being done overseas – which would be a significant benefit for the community. Hydrogen powered vehicles are quieter and emit nothing more than clean water.”

The project partners will provide technical support and will purchase hydrogen fuel cell vehicles for the project. Global hydrogen experts Arup are also helping support this project through the development, design and delivery phases.

Mayor Phil Goff said, “I welcome this trial. It is a first for New Zealand and shows Auckland’s desire to lead on climate change action and meet our ambitious emissions reduction targets.

“With 40 per cent of emissions in Auckland coming from our transport system, alternative energy sources to power vehicles, such as electric and hydrogen, are critical to meeting the target of global warming to 1.5 degrees.

“With infrastructure in place, hydrogen has the potential to power our buses and other parts of our vehicle fleet both reducing global emissions and cutting back on air pollution in Auckland such as in Queen Street where carbon levels are very high,” says Mayor Phil Goff.

Auckland Council’s Chief Executive, Stephen Town, says, “We’re proud to collaborate with the Ports of Auckland, Auckland Transport and KiwiRail on this innovative hydrogen project – a first for New Zealand. It is important for organisations like ours, as signatories to the Climate Leaders Coalition, to continue leading on climate change action; it’s also important for us to push the boundaries with ambitious projects that demonstrate leadership here in Auckland. Trialling new technology to reduce emissions and signalling a smarter economic future is important for our city’s people, places and prosperity.”

KiwiRail Acting CEO Todd Moyle says KiwiRail is delighted to be part of this ground-breaking project. “KiwiRail is committed to a sustainable future and has set a goal to be carbon neutral by 2050. While rail is an inherently sustainable form of transport with 66% fewer carbon emissions than heavy road freight, new fuel sources like hydrogen have enormous potential for the future of transport in New Zealand.

“Just weeks ago, two hydrogen-powered trains with a range of 1000km per tank began operating commercial services in Germany. If successful with passengers, there is no reason why the next development could not be hydrogen-powered freight trains.

“Joining forces with Ports of Auckland in this project will allow us to explore how KiwiRail could use this new technology as we deliver stronger connections for New Zealand.”

Auckland Transport Chief Executive Shane Ellison says AT is committed to clean technology and is very interested in the possibilities of hydrogen power. “This could be part of the answer for our fleet of buses and harbour ferries. The idea of a vehicle which only produces water as a by-product is very exciting.”

The project is currently in the planning phase, and Ports of Auckland is about to start stakeholder engagement before applying for resource consent in early 2019. The facility is planned to be operational by the end of 2019.

An aerial view of Ports of Auckland from the west.
SUPPLIED
An aerial view of Ports of Auckland from the west.

A rift has opened up between Auckland Council and the Government over how the future of the city’s port will be decided.

Mayor Phil Goff says there’s a risk that a Government-appointed working group looking at the upper North Island ports might have pre-determined whether Auckland’s council-owned port could move, and if so where.

Goff said he put a “robust” view to the working group’s chair, former Far North mayor Wayne Brown, in a private meeting last week.

A council commissioned study found shifting the vehicle import trade, could lose Auckland $1 billion
BEVAN READ/STUFF
A council commissioned study found shifting the vehicle import trade, could lose Auckland $1 billion

He said Brown’s public rejection of two potential locations identified by a council study didn’t give confidence, and the group didn’t appear to have enough time or resources to do a proper job.

The council on Tuesday approved a blunt letter to be sent to Brown, ahead of the council’s first formal meeting with the working group in just over a fortnight.

Goff favoured the eventual shift of the port from its current location on the downtown waterfront, but was unhappy with the approach being taken by the working group.

The council will tell the group that its priorities include protecting the value of Ports of Auckland, which last year paid it a $51.1 million dividend.

It is also telling the working group it wants a transparent, objective and evidence-based approach to reviewing the future of the ports in Auckland, Tauranga and Whangarei.

Auckland Council has conducted the most detailed work so far on the future of its port.

Previous mayor Len Brown funded out of his office budget the Port Future Study, which in 2016 found the port might not outgrow its current site in 50 years, but that work should begin on identifying alternatives, in case it did.

Before the 2017 elections New Zealand First advocated an early shift of the vehicle-import trade from Auckland to Northland’s port.

The coalition government including New Zealand First took a bigger picture approach, setting up the Upper North Island Supply Chain Strategy working group, in line with a request from Auckland Council.

New Zealand First MP and Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones who oversees the working group, has since been vocal on matters relating to the future of Auckland’s port.

At the start of November Jones said he would do all he could to head-off a planned multi-storey carpark building planned by Ports of Auckland, to house vehicles arriving in the port.

“Public statements have created the impression of pre-determination,” said the council in a letter to the chair of the working group Wayne Brown.

Brown has made public comment favouring a move to Northland, including an opinion column published in November 2017 before being appointed to chair the group.

“Imagine the Auckland waterfront without used cars getting the best views,” Brown wrote.

“Watch for self-justifying job-saving promises from Ports of Auckland to fend off any sensible moves like Sydney has made keeping the harbour just for cruise liners and sending cargo to Wollongong and Newcastle.”

The council’s letter pointed to comments by Brown.

“Indicating a strong preference for relocation of some or all of POAL activities to Northport prior to any analysis is unhelpful,” said the letter which Goff will sign.

“Any plans to move all or some of the Port’s functions requires the concurrence of its owners, the people of Auckland, through Auckland Council,” said the letter.

“I’ve already said to the chair, we’ve put a lot of work into two future options (Manukau Harbour and Firth of Thames) and you’ve dismissed this out of hand, which gives us no confidence,” Goff told today’s planning committee meeting.

The council has spelled out 10 areas it wants the working group to examine closely.

These include the feasible capacity of all upper North Island ports, as well as the climate change impacts of moving freight to and from the ports.

It wanted work done on the social and community impacts of any change, and how and when a future new port would be funded.

The council will have its first meeting with the government’s working group on December 13.

 

Transport Agency not fit to regulate rail – lawyer

A health and safety lawyer believes the Transport Agency has been too cosy with the rail operators it is required to regulate for safety and wants change.

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Since a 2000 inquiry into the deaths of rail workers in the 1990s, health and safety in rail has been covered by two pieces of legislation – the Railways Act and the Health and Safety at Work Act, and overseen by the Transport Agency and WorkSafe when it was established in December 2013.

Now a report from the Rail and Maritime Transport Union has laid out the case for urgent reform.

In 2012, 10 KiwiRail workers were overcome with gas while working in the country’s longest tunnel, the near nine kilometre long Kaimai Tunnel.

The workers lacked emergency evacuation equipment and did not have any procedures in place and there was no ability to communicate between the teams working in the tunnel.

In November 2013, there was a similar incident in Otira Tunnel near Authur’s Pass.

Health and safety lawyer and author of the report, Hazel Armstrong, investigated these cases for the Rail and Maritime Transport Union.

She said the Transport Agency did not use its power to improve tunnel safety, but that the then newly-formed WorkSafe was prepared to issue improvement notices and enforce standards.

“NZTA had oversight for many years and did not, so, we had to rely on WorkSafe to issue the improvement notices and the prohibition notices, because NZTA wouldn’t.”

Ms Armstrong said the rail operators have been allowed to write their own rules as part of a light-handed approach to regulation and she had no confidence in the Transport Agency.

“We have seen many years of an approach or a culture within NZTA that is not robust around health and safety.”

The union’s general secretary, Wayne Butson, said it commissioned the report as part of an ongoing struggle to get rational health and safety regulations into the rail industry since the Railway Act came into force.

He said since that piece of legislation came in in 2005 not one rule had been written by the Transport Agency.

Mr Butson said the agency did not have a culture of regulation, “what they have is a culture of trying to encourage and educate and work with employers to see how they can improve safety”.

“I think using the carrot without the stick just does not work.”

Wayne Butson and Hazel Armstrong said rail safety and regulation needs to be completely taken out of the agency’s hands and fall under WorkSafe.

The Transport Agency is under scrutiny for its oversight of other parts of the transport industry and it is now subject to an external review.

In a statement, the Minister of Transport, Phil Twyford, said he is asking for advice on what changes to the regulatory function are required and expects that rail safety will be looked at as part of that work.

Interislander to get new, bigger Cook Strait ferries by 2022, report says

A Cook Strait ferry battles big waves out of Wellington.
MONIQUE FORD/STUFF
A Cook Strait ferry battles big waves out of Wellington.

A date appears to have been set for Interislander to get new, bigger Cook Strait ferries – but it seems nobody told the ferry operator.

With passenger and freight expected to increase significantly in coming years, the ground-based work needed to accommodate the larger ferries has been outlined in a report to Greater Wellington Regional Council’s regional strategy committee.

At least one operator – Interislander – planned “to purchase and operate new larger vessels on the Cook Strait. These are scheduled to arrive in 2022,” the council report said.

“These new vessels will require new terminal facilities as well as additional infrastructure.”

But according to Interislander’s overseer KiwiRail, the process was not so far down the track.

It was only “looking at upgrading its ferries” and was still working through options, a spokeswoman said.

No timeline was set and no decisions had been made, she said.

Aratere had a $54m overhaul in 2011 but is now nearing the end of its life.
KEVIN STENT/STUFF
Aratere had a $54m overhaul in 2011 but is now nearing the end of its life.

Acting KiwiRail chief executive Todd Moyle said in October that all three of its ferries – Aratere, Kaiarahi, and Kaitaki – were nearing the end of their lives.

KiwiRail needed new ships “built for our specifications and requirements”, he wrote in a Stuff opinion piece.

“Our future freight and tourism needs will require bigger ships, and our ports at Wellington and Picton need to be able to handle them.”

One of the decisions still to be made was whether to have a train deck, which would allow a loaded train to roll on at the start of a journey and roll off at the other end, or whether to just transfer cargo from trains to trailers.

The Kaiarahi Interislander Ferry - now nearing the end of its life - recently had a refit in Singapore.
DEREK FLYNN/STUFF
The Kaiarahi Interislander Ferry – now nearing the end of its life – recently had a refit in Singapore.

“In the next couple of months the results of our investigations and consultation with our people, our union partners, customers and stakeholders will be known,” Moyle said.

“The size and number of ships in our new fleet, and the type best suited to our future freight and tourism needs, will be decided. Whatever the result, new ships will deliver more capacity, increased resilience, better fuel efficiency and greater reliability for our customers.”

The new ferries would have new facilities and would make for a better crossing.

“Once the decision is made we will embark on the next stage of our future fleet programme – building the new ships that will continue to unite New Zealand across that most tempestuous of barriers, Cook Strait.”

Cook Strait ferry Kaitaki, which is also nearing the end of its life.
Cook Strait ferry Kaitaki, which is also nearing the end of its life.

Greater Wellington is also leading a project to develop a new “multi-user” Cook Strait ferry terminal in Wellington, which will serve as the port for both Interislander and Bluebridge ferries.

The two sites being considered at Interislander’s current Kaiwharawhara site and Kings Wharf, near the existing Bluebridge operation and Wellington Railway Station.

“Forecasts of future demand indicate that substantial growth in both freight and passenger numbers is likely over the next 10-20 years,” the report said.

“However, the terminal infrastructure is a long-term investment, and so an understanding of demand over a 50-year timeframe should be considered when designing. By 2025 it is expected that annual passenger numbers will rise to 1.7 million.”

Passenger numbers were about 1 million in 2010.

COOK STRAIT FERRIES: A HISTORY

* 1875: A passenger service between Wellington and Picton begins with a weekly service till 1962 when the last ship in service, Tamahine, was withdrawn.

* 1962: The first roll-on, roll-off ferry, Aramoana, enters service.

* 1983: New ferry Arahura arrives, while the Aramoana and Aranui were laid up two years later.

* 1994: Christchurch businessman Brooke McKenzie starts the Sea Shuttle fast ferry. It lasts the summer.

* 1995: The North by South Straitrunner starts a Paremata to Picton service but the company goes into receivership in May 1996.

* 1998: Mana Seacat starts a Paremata to Picton service in its Te Hukatai catamaran but the firm folds five months later.

* 1999: Fast Cat Ferries begins its short-lived TopCat service. It winds up in November 2000.

*  2005: The last Lynx service sails from Picton.

* 2011: Aratere refurbished for nearly $54 million, and its hull was lengthened by 30 metres. But that was followed by multiple issues including, in 2013, when it lost a propeller in Tory Channel

 

Automation and capacity update from Ports of Auckland

22 November 2018

Operational Update

Automation and Capacity Project – Update

Our project to transform Fergusson Terminal which will provide future capacity is well underway and visitors to the port will have seen a lot of activity and changes including civil works, construction workers and sections of tarmac undergoing renewal.  What has been happening recently:

A-Strads

Visitors will have seen the new blue “A Strads” now assembled on the north end of the terminal, undergoing a comprehensive range of testing in readiness for Go-Live next year.

 

 

 

 

Road Exchange

The work to upgrade the truck lanes has been completed and the next stage is installing the gates and fences required to keep truck drivers and A Strads separated.

Pre-gate Kiosk Screens

These have been updated. Drivers now need to complete some additional steps at the kiosk.  This means that when automation goes live, the drivers will already be familiar with the new system.

Reefer Gantries

The large shiny frames of the new reefer gantries at the southern end of the Fergusson terminal are now complete and sign-off for the reefer operation is expected before the end of this year.  In the meantime, we have been able to use the area as valuable stacking space for dry containers.

New Container Cranes

There was a lot of media interest and celebration with the arrival of our three new container cranes on the specialised delivery vessel Zhen Hua 25.

It was a great sight to see them sail into the harbour in the early morning. These cranes, which have quad-lift capacity (they can lift four containers at once), are now in place on Fergusson North Berth and will be commissioned early 2019, after a range of testing required to integrate them into our current systems.

 

Hatch Platforms have now been installed on all container cranes – these allow the ship’s hatch covers to be stored above the ground, freeing up space around the cranes for container handling.

Lash Platforms In a first for New Zealand, we’re installing lash platforms on all our cranes and our new cranes have them already fitted.  This will make stevedores’ job safer, as they can work above ground away from moving straddles.

Rail OCR (Optical Character Recognition)

A frame, fitted with multiple cameras, has been placed over the rail line to capture images and recognise container numbers arriving and leaving by rail. This system provides a high degree of accuracy and enables rail planners to quickly check on any “exceptions”.

Supply Chain Challenges

There are a range of challenges being experienced throughout the supply chain. We are automating Fergusson Terminal to increase capacity and productivity, whilst at the same time experiencing unprecedented volume demand. It is a bit like having heart surgery while playing rugby!

While we’re carrying out the automation work our terminal capacity is actually reduced, putting pressure on our operations especially during peak import season.

We are undertaking this transformation to ensure we are ready to accommodate Auckland’s rapid growth in freight demand.  We’ll be able to handle more containers on the same land, but it also means some changes in the way cargo owners and trucking companies interact with the port.

Greater planning and different ways of operating are needed throughout the freight supply chain. The port operates 24/7 and yet the wider supply chain largely works 24/5 at best, and often 9 to 5 Monday to Friday.

Extended operational hours are needed at distribution centres, empty depots and importers’ and exporters’ premises to maximise the capacity of the whole supply chain.  It is much the same as an internet connection – you’re currently on dial-up and want to upgrade to fibre, but you only get the best speed if you’ve got fibre end-to-end.

We have been engaging with importers, exporters, trucking companies and freight forwarders to discuss the changes and welcome you to make contact to discuss any issues you may have.

Further Progress

Our automation go-live date is late 2019.  There are a number of civil, operational, engineering and I.T. projects being undertaken, some of which need to be completed in a specific order and others are more flexible.  This means that we are continually adjusting the timing of work.  We will keep you updated on progress and changes.

Please contact us if you have any questions or would like to discuss any ideas or concerns, at any stage.

For more information contact

Customer Service

P: +64 9 348 5100 Ext. 1

E: customerservice@poal.co.nz

 

For VBS queries contact

Transport Co-ordinators

P: +64 9 348 5100 Ext.2

E: driversassist@poal.co.nz

 

 

Ports of Auckland have joined the Climate Leaders Coalitiona collection of business leaders who have each committed to act on climate change.

Ports of Auckland is the first port in the world to make this commitment and the first port in New Zealand to be CEMARS® certified. Joining the coalition contributes to the ports promise to become zero emissions by 2040.

More information on the Climate Leaders Coalition can be found here. Read the CEO Climate Change Statement here.

 

KiwiRail gets $40 million for new Manawatu freight hub

KiwiRail received a $40 million commitment from the government's Provincial Growth Fund. Photo / File
KiwiRail received a $40 million commitment from the government’s Provincial Growth Fund. Photo / File

KiwiRail is accelerating work to relocate its Palmerston North operations out of the city as part of plans to develop a regional hub to better handle freight flows throughout the lower North Island.

The company has just received a $40 million commitment from the government’s Provincial Growth Fund to help it with the planning process for the project and for land purchase.

Acting chief executive Todd Moyle said the yet-to-be determined site could potentially cover 60 hectares, some of which would be leased to freight forwarders.

It would also need to be long enough to cater for freights trains that can be a kilometre in length, and have sufficient space to support maintenance infrastructure and materials storage.

Palmerston North is KiwiRail’s key staging point for domestic, imported and exported freight in the lower North Island. Rail freight comes and goes from the north, Wellington, Taranaki and Hawke’s Bay.

About 2.4 million tonnes moved through the current facility in the past year and that is expected to grow.

“This project leverages the region’s strengths and will be fully integrated into the other large investments being made in the regional transport system, including the new Manawatu Gorge road,” Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones said.

“This is a future-focused investment”, with freight tonnages expected to increase by 60 percent during the next 20 years.

Moyle said KiwRail would have invested in the hub, given its strategic importance, but he said the PGF funding had enabled the company to accelerate the work.

“The PGF focus on the regions allowed us to move the freight hub right up our priority list. Without the possibility of PGF funding it would have remained a low priority.”

The main trunk rail line originally ran through Palmerston North. It was diverted around the city and the current rail yard established in 1964 on what was then the city’s north-western outskirts, but is now surrounded by urban development.

Moyle said the firm will start reviewing potential sites immediately. That includes land inside the city’s North East Industrial Zone near the existing rail line and the city’s airport. Once potential sites have been identified there will be a process to designate the land for rail use.

Moyle said purchasing land and planning work could take up to three years. Construction would take another two years.

He said the inter-modal rail and road hub needs to be near the city so it can be easily accessed by distribution companies and other businesses. It also needs to connect well with the airport, a freight ring road being planned by the New Zealand Transport Agency and the proposed replacement road for the Manawatu Gorge.

Moyle said KiwiRail would relocate from the current location over time, allowing the existing land to be used for business and housing.

Government scraps plan for KiwiRail diesel trains

The Government has honoured a campaign pledge to keep electric trains running and has committed an extra $35 million to refurbish them.

Fifteen electric trains currently operating between Hamilton and Palmerston North will be refurbished under state-owned KiwiRail – a move welcomed by the Rail and Maritime Transport Union.

“We’re thrilled to see the Labour-led government protecting Kiwi jobs,” said Rail and Maritime Transport Union general-secretary Wayne Butson.

“Union members, environmental campaigners and industry experts have all spoken out about the importance of investing in electric rail, and we clearly have a government that listens to the people.”

If KiwiRail had been permitted to proceed with National’s plans to replace the EF Class electric locomotives with DL class diesel engines imported from China, the union says it would have added an extra 12,000 tonnes to New Zealand’s carbon footprint.

The plans to switch from electric trains to diesel under KiwiRail between Hamilton and Palmerston North were announced in 2016. But an external review by engineering consultants Worley Parsons warned that diesel trains purchased from China have “a very high failure rate”.

Studies also suggested that the DL locomotives are often unreliable, overly expensive and at risk of asbestos contamination. The Worley Parsons review said KiwiRail should be switching its whole fleet to electric.

The switch to diesel would be 25 percent cheaper to run. And KiwiRail said at the time the move would reduce its carbon footprint because fewer trucks would be needed to move loads, despite diesel emitting five times more greenhouse gases than the current fleet.

Green Party Associate Minister for Transport Julie-Anne Genter, who was transport spokesperson at the time, said it was “shocking” that KiwiRail would choose the diesel options. She called on then-Transport Minister Simon Bridges to halt the plan.

In a letter to KiwiRail chief executive Peter Reidy in August last year, Labour’s transport spokesperson at the time, Michael Wood, confirmed that if Labour was elected, it would “require a halt on any work to de-electrify the [train] network”.

He said Labour would “work with KiwiRail to develop an evidence-based, long term plan to guide capital investment in the rail network,” adding, “We will consider options to expand electrification as part of this plan.”

Mr Butson believes New Zealand must “electrify more of our rail network, not less”.

“The highly skilled workforce in KiwiRail’s workshops can now build a modern, sustainable fleet of locomotives that will be the envy of the world,” he said.

National’s transport spokesperson Paul Goldsmith has been contacted for comment.

Newshub.

New railway line to Marsden Point being investigated by KiwiRail

KiwiRail to investigate Marsden Point railway – Photo / File

KiwiRail has started work on geotechnical investigations along a section of the new route for the proposed rail-link to the port at Marsden Point in Northland.

KiwiRail Acting Chief Executive Todd Moyle says the scoping work will inform the business case for Northland rail currently being developed by the Ministry of Transport.

“We’ve held a designation for this rail spur for several years, and are very pleased to be now taking steps to determine how the line would be built,” says Moyle.

“These investigations will provide us with more detailed information about the design and potential construction methods for the link, as well as costs and timeframes.

“To begin with, we’ll be working at Mata Hill over the next few weeks, using a drilling rig to take samples from a number of locations,” he says.

These will bore up to 30 metres into the ground to remove samples for analysis.

“We are also investigating what associated works would be needed on the North Auckland Line to allow for more freight to be carried by rail to and from Northland,” says Moyle.

“The Government has indicated its strong support for the value rail delivers in the regions and the benefits it brings for New Zealand by taking trucks off the road, improving safety and reducing carbon emissions.

“The work we are doing in Northland is one of a number of projects underway to ensure we deliver stronger connections for a better New Zealand,” he says.

NZ Transport Agency allocates $62m to upgrade Wairarapa rail line

rural railway line

The New Zealand Transport Agency (NZ Transport Agency) has allocated more than NZ$96m ($62.06m) to upgrade the Wairarapa rail line in a bid to improve transportation and tourism in the Wellington region.

The funding forms part of the government’s NZ$16.9bn ($10.93bn) transport investment under the National Land Transport Programme to bolster rail and road network across the country.

New Zealand Minister for Transport Phil Twyford opined that the Wairarapa investment will help to prevent further deterioration and service disruptions on the line.

Twyford said: “Passengers have a right to expect a safe and reliable service, and this investment will ensure the long-term future of this route.

“Passengers have a right to expect a safe and reliable service, and this investment will ensure the long-term future of this route.”

“It also highlights the importance our Government places on public transport.”

The total investment consists of NZ$50m ($32.3m) for track infrastructure works, and NZ$46.2m ($29.9m) for the rail line south of the Rimutaka Hill tunnel as well as for double-tracking works between Trentham and Upper Hutt.

New Zealand’s state-owned agency for rail operations KiwiRail also welcomed the investment.

KiwiRail acting chief executive David Gordon said: “The network is ageing and parts of it are nearing the end of their useful life, which means there have to be speed restrictions and more likelihood of delays.

“This funding will allow KiwiRail to get the network up to standard and make improvements that will allow for more and longer trains.”

Overall, New Zealand allocated a total of NZ$196m ($126.7m) to upgrade rail infrastructure across the Wellington region. Construction at the Wairarapa rail line forms part of this investment and is scheduled to begin in April next year.

The train will get through – eventually

The washout which has delayed the reopening of the Napier to Wairoa railway line. PHOTO/FILE.
The washout which has delayed the reopening of the Napier to Wairoa railway line. PHOTO/FILE.

The reopening of the Napier-Wairoa railway line could be delayed until April next year as a result of a washout just north of Raupunga.

The line had been scheduled for reopening by the end of this year to start dealing with the wall of timber from forestry in Northern Hawke’s Bay, but the delay was confirmed by KiwiRail acting chief operations officer Henare Clarke yesterday, five weeks after the heavy rain that caused a washout which left 45 metres of track and sleepers suspended in the air approaching a bridge.

Clarke said a detailed assessment had shown it to be “a more complex situation than our initial assessments indicated.

“KiwiRail’s preferred option is to rebuild the embankment, which will involve removing a significant volume of slip material and backfilling on the site,” he said.

KiwiRail is still working through specifics such as consents, community and iwi liaison, design and associated construction programmes, and now expects the extra work to be completed by April. It is also still assessing the extra cost.

“While this setback is unfortunate we remain committed to reopening the rail line for forestry and are working closely with the other stakeholders and forestry owners to see if there are other options for rail freight while this section is repaired.

Work on reinstatement of the line which had been mothballed more than five years began immediately after KiwiRail was allocated $5 million in line reinstatement funding from the Government’s Provincial Growth Fund in February.

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