KiwiRail faces future with its hand out

With its fleet of ageing ferries, age-expired locomotives and the need for replacement wagons, KiwiRail is building its case for a large taxpayer investment. David Williams reports.

It was in 2008, an election year, that Helen Clark’s Labour-led government bought back the country’s rail assets under the KiwiRail banner.

Finance Minister Michael Cullen said at the time that during negotiations with the previous owner, Toll, it become clear that buying the rail operating business, including the inter-island ferries, was the best way to increase investment in the industry. Running a commercially viable business would prove extremely difficult without government support, he said, adding: “In the months ahead, I will explore options for significant investments in new, modern rolling stock.”

Instead, Labour lost that election and the global financial crisis kicked in, leading to years of public sector belt-tightening under Prime Minister John Key. Yet, despite all the rhetoric about roads – especially those of national importance – the National government pumped billions into rail. According to The Listener, the previous government spent about $2.1 billion on network maintenance and upgrades, and $1.4 billion for commuter rail upgrades in Auckland and Wellington.

But it’s never been enough. While its freight and tourism businesses manage to make a small operating profit, the company traditionally needs more than $200 million a year to maintain its network. That network includes 3500 kilometres of track, 1322 bridges and 98 tunnels, as well as maintaining its “above-rail” assets.

KiwiRail’s latest half-year report said more than half of the company’s active locomotives in the South Island were bought before 1975. That reflects, KiwiRail chairman Trevor Janes wrote, “decades of underinvestment which has contributed to recent challenges” – including the 2016 Kaikoura earthquakes.

“A rail company cannot live from pay cheque to pay cheque, you need a longer-term focus.” – David Gordon

It’s in this context that KiwiRail started a review. In last year’s Budget, the National-led Government pledged $450 million over two years, on the proviso there was a probe into its operating structure and longer-term capital requirements. “The Government wants to put the rail network on a longer-term sustainable footing,” then Transport Minister Simon Bridges said, in the hope National could suddenly achieve what it had failed to do for years.

The focus of that review changed when Labour, New Zealand First and the Greens formed a Government. (Pre-election, Labour promised to build light rail from Auckland’s CBD to the airport and a passenger service between Auckland, Hamilton and Tauranga.)

KiwiRail’s group general manager of investment, planning and risk David Gordon tells Newsroom there’s now a greater focus on “What do you want rail to do?”, as opposed to simply how much will it cost. “A rail company cannot live from pay cheque to pay cheque, you need a longer-term focus. I think everyone understands that. The question is, what is the mechanism by which that’s done and then, obviously, what is the amount.”

One mechanism, announced in April, was a surprise petrol tax hike, something Newsroom Pro’s Bernard Hickey called the Government’s “politically riskiest move since its formation”.

In its policy statement on land transport, which sets transport priorities, the new Government sent a message by adding rail to the list of transport classes that can bid for money from a pot called the national land transport fund. (Auckland is set to get a $2.8 billion increase from the fund, to help pay for a $28 billion transport wishlist over the next decade.)

However, the policy statement said scope for rail funding is “very tight”, and limited to improving struggling urban rail services and contributing to new and existing “interregional” commuter services.

‘Rust never sleeps’

KiwiRail’s review is scheduled to run through the rest of this year. But Gordon says for the biggest-ticket items, which will cost the largest dollops of money, it wants to bring these to the Government’s attention earlier. Those include its locomotives and ferries, which are at “end of life”, and money spent in its freight business “just to remain relevant”. KiwiRail would also like to standardise its equipment and link its IT systems more closely to that of its customers.

The problem is, and always has been, how much money KiwiRail needs just to maintain its network. Two weekends ago, a big chunk of the Auckland network and almost all of Wellington’s network was closed for replacement works. In greater Wellington, five bridges are in various stages of replacement involving 70,000 railway sleepers.

“It goes on all the time,” Gordon says. “Rust never sleeps.”

KiwiRail has also become very good at sweating its big ticket items like locomotives and ferries. But you can only sweat them so much.

Off the back of a record summer season, KiwiRail’s general manager of strategic projects Walter Rushbrook says its existing ferries are at capacity at peak periods. It is considering whether it should buy or lease bigger ships to cope. That’s triggered wider conversations about transport links with the likes including port companies, regional councils and NZ Transport Agency, especially about the future of existing ferry terminals in Wellington and Picton. As Rushbrook says: “Bigger ships mean you need bigger wharves.”

 
Kaitaki is the largest vessel on Cook Strait with a capacity of more than 1300 people. Photo: KiwiRail

KiwiRail’s Interislander ferries – Kaitaki and Aratere, which it owns, and the leased Kaiarahi – are not expected to have cataclysmic failures as they age, he says. But they might become more unreliable. “The team works really hard to keep it going but it’s like an old car – it’s going to need increased amounts of love as it gets into its twilight years.”

Meanwhile, Gordon says about half of KiwiRail’s 100 locomotives are “age-expired”. New locos cost about $5 million. “You could do the maths there.” Wagons also need replacing – he didn’t hint at how many – standard flat-top wagons cost about $150,000-a-pop.

“So, yes, it’s in the hundreds of millions, absolutely.”

Surely that number could reach $1 billion, over time? Gordon says that as a stand-alone commercial proposition, rail in New Zealand has never been in a position to fund its underlying capital, of about $200-odd-million a year.

“On an ongoing basis, rail will require capital. You do the years long enough it’ll get to be a very big number.”

Asked when big chunks of Crown investment might be needed in KiwiRail’s ageing infrastructure, Gordon and Rushbrook both arrive on a rough timeframe of five years.

Turnaround comes to a screeching halt

Labour would do well to focus on the non-financial benefits of rail – such as carbon emission savings and easing congestion – if National’s record is anything to go by.

In 2010, it enacted a $750 million “turnaround plan” in the hope of making KiwiRail self-sustaining by 2021. The plan was shelved in 2013. A Treasury review found KiwiRail had made substantial progress but the plan had been based on overly optimistic revenue assumptions, inadequate progress in some areas and unexpected factors, like the global recession.

Hundreds of millions of Crown dollars continued to flow into the rail company. A commercial review started in 2014 found that New Zealand’s freight business would never be big enough for KiwiRail to be self-sustaining. By 2016, six years after the turnaround plan started, freight volumes had increased 14 percent, and KiwiRail’s share of import and export volumes had leaped 69 percent. Another 48 locomotives and 1300 wagons were bought.

So much was achieved. And then the Kaikoura quakes hit in November 2016.

In latest KiwiRail accounts, for the half-year, the company notes its insurance only covers loss and damage up to $350 million. The previous Government promised to meet any shortfall, including, in that last six-month period, a $40 million injection, while the company’s accounts took a charge of $134.1 million on its assets “for the capital cost of reinstatement incurred”.

Gordon says if Crown money is invested properly it can deliver on Government policy objectives. He points to Government investment in Auckland’s commuter rail network. In 2003, when Britomart station opened, patronage was about two-and-a-half million trips a year. Last August, the rail network celebrated recording 20 million trips in a single year.

Gordon: “I can’t see any reason to suspect that, post the City Rail Link and other things, that could be up in the 50s.”

Peters versus English

A question which seems more relevant in the last 24 hours is, what are the Government’s objectives? Yesterday Labour’s Justice Minister Andrew Little announced he was backing off repealing the controversial Three Strikes law because New Zealand First wouldn’t support it.

In terms of KiwiRail’s future, it’s worth repeating an exchange in Parliament in February 2015.

Bill English, the Finance Minister at the time, found himself defending his Government’s investment in KiwiRail – more than $1 billion over four or five years – under questioning from Finance and Expenditure Committee member Winston Peters.

Plugging capital investment gaps of between $150 million to $350 million a year was a concern, English agreed.

Peters asked English if he’d had any discussions about privatising the ferry service or putting in foreign ships or crews. No, English replied, adding: “This is a business where it’s a real challenge to get it to a sustainable basis, and we are now, I think, on about our third round of having a harder, deeper look at what drives KiwiRail costs and revenue.”

Peters, unsatisfied, pressed further, asking if any Treasury boffins had ever asked about the financial “disaster” happening at KiwiRail, the “almost daily stoppages” and whether it needed to go through the business with a fine-tooth comb. “Surely somebody said: ‘Look, alarm bells should be ringing here. What are we going to do about it?’”

Newsroom asked Peters, the Minister of State Owned Enterprises and soon to be acting prime minister, for his current view of KiwiRail’s operations and the likelihood of further Crown investment. His office didn’t respond.

20,000 TEU COSCO Shipping Virgo Delivered

Chinese container shipping major COSCO Shipping Corporation has taken delivery of its fifth 20,000 TEU containership, COSCO Shipping Virgo.

Built by Shanghai Waigaoqiao Shipbuilding, the ship is 399.8 meters long and 58.6 meters wide. It boasts a deck area equivalent to almost four standard football fields and can achieve a speed of 22.5 nautical miles per hour.

COSCO Shipping Virgo has a maximum carrying capacity of 20,119 TEU, and it is equipped with 1,000 reefer sockets.

The giant boxship was classed by both DNV GL and China Classification Society.

According to COSCO, the ship’s fuel consumption and energy-efficiency have been optimized through latest energy-saving rudder and propulsion systems.  In addition, the ship is equipped with intelligent ship management systems and allows for one-man bridge operation.

It is worth USD 122.95 million, based on the valuation from VesselsValue.

The delivery of COSCO Shipping Virgo comes on the back of four 20,000 TEU boxships delivered since the beginning of this year.

COSCO Shipping Taurus, also built by SWS, and COSCO Shipping Aries, built by Nantong COSCO KHI Ship Engineering (NACKS) were delivered in January this year.

COSCO Shipping Leo and COSCO Shipping Gemini followed suit in March and April respectively.

World Maritime News Staff; Image Courtesy: Cosco Shipping

KiwiRail welcomes Northland rail pledge

There is local support for rail improvements.
DANICA MACLEAN/FAIRFAX NZ

KiwiRail is welcoming the Government decision to investigate upgrading and expanding rail north of Auckland.

The initiative was announced by the Ministers of Transport and Regional Development as part of a package of Provincial Growth Fund improvements to help Northland’s economic and social growth.

They pledged $500,000 to examining the potential for rail improvements.

The coalition agreement between Labour and NZ First said the new Government would commission a feasibility study on the options for moving the Ports of Auckland, including giving Northport serious consideration.

Friday’s announcement did not mention the port specifically.

“We are looking forward to participating in the business case process. As the Government has indicated, KiwiRail has the ability to drive economic growth in the regions through our freight network, world-class tourism services and the passenger services we enable,” said KiwiRail chief executive Peter Reidy.

“Using rail also delivers a range of significant benefits including reducing carbon emissions and road congestion, making our roads safer, lowering spending on road maintenance and upgrades, and reducing fatalities.

“Every tonne of freight carried by rail is a 66 per cent emissions saving over heavy road freight.

“Northland’s rail lines are under-used and much of the rail infrastructure is old, reducing the speed at which trains can travel. The tunnels are not fit for purpose when it comes to container freight and considerable investment is needed to bring the rail line up to modern standards.

“If it proceeds, this work will allow for faster trains, larger modern sized containers and tourism services.”

KiwiRail currently runs one weekday return service to Auckland on the line predominantly carrying dairy and forestry.

– Stuff

LPC Ready to Meet Canterbury’s Doubling Freight Demands

18 MAY 2018

 

With the 2011 earthquake rebuild behind it, Lyttelton Port Company (LPC) is now focused on enhancing its infrastructure to efficiently manage Canterbury freight volumes, forecast to more than double in the coming three decades.

LPC Chief Executive, Peter Davie says, “We have recently been granted resource consent to dredge the harbour shipping channel to increase our draught. This will enable larger ships to call at Lyttelton Port providing Canterbury’s importers and exporters the best possible and most cost effective international shipping solutions.

“We have also been granted resource consent to expand our land area to cater for growing Canterbury imports and exports,” says Mr Davie.

“What’s critical for us is that these two developments allow us to grow Canterbury’s trade. It is really important that we have the facilities to enable larger ships to move cargo as we continue to grow. Since the earthquakes we have doubled our container volumes and we expect that to continue.

“The dredging programme means larger container ships, which have virtually doubled in size during the last 10 years, will be able to call at Lyttelton. It is estimated this will decrease freight costs for Lyttelton customers by more than 10 per cent.

“The channel deepening lengthens the navigation channel by approximately 6.5km and widens it by 20 metres. The work will occur in two stages. Stage one will allow vessels with a 13.3 metre draught to call at Lyttelton. Completion of stage two will allow unrestricted sailing for 14.5 metre draught vessels across all tides,” says Peter Davie.

Chairman of the International Container Lines Committee (ICLC), which represents most major container carriers calling at New Zealand, Mark Scott welcomes the news that LPC is about to embark on its channel deepening, and undertake further reclamation.

Mark Scott says, “It is vital that Lyttelton positions itself well and has the capacity for larger ships to call at the Port. Shipping companies are making decisions now on where these large ships will call in New Zealand and the dredging programme gives them assurance that Lyttelton Port is a major player.

“Currently container vessels visiting Lyttelton commonly carry 4,500- to 5,000 Twenty foot equivalent units (TEUs), that will increase to 5,500 -6,500 TEUs with larger vessels. However it is quite conceivable that with the dredging of the channel vessels carrying 8,000-9,000 TEU will be able to call at Lyttelton.”

Mike Knowles, Chair of the New Zealand Shippers Council says it is really encouraging from a shippers point of view that the Port Company is able to proceed with the dredging and expansion programmes.

“Bigger ships will continue for the foreseeable future and as Lyttelton is the major port in the South Island it is essential that it gears up to accommodate them.

“The infrastructure initiatives taking place at Lyttelton means it will remain competitive for international shipping lines, facilitating Canterbury exporters’ and importers’ access to world markets,” said Mr Knowles.

LPC was granted its channel deepening consent in March 2018, with Environment Canterbury satisfied that LPC’s plans balanced what is best for the environment, the community and Canterbury’s growing regional economy.

Peter Davie said the overall dredging programme would be the country’s biggest, and that LPC had already implemented the largest environmental monitoring programme ever undertaken for a New Zealand dredging project.

“We have awarded the initial stage of the channel deepening programme work to Netherlands-based contractor Royal Boskalis Westminster N.V. – a leading global operator with more than 100 years’ experience. Their dredge will start operating in late July/early August and the dredging programme will last around 11 weeks.

“At the same time we will expand our reclamation at Te Awaparahi Bay by 24 hectares, which includes the construction of a new 700 metre container wharf. Last year the existing reclamation at Te Awaparahi Bay reached 10 hectares.

“This expansion is critical to enable the Port, as the South Island’s trade gateway, to meet the needs of the forecast growth in the container and general cargo trades.

“A key focus of our long term plans is to move our operations to the east, away from the local community. The additional reclamation will facilitate this shift.

“We are committed to future proofing our operations by making certain that we have a facility that meets customer needs for the future and supports the lifestyle of all people living in Christchurch, Canterbury and the wider South Island.

“We are delighted to achieve these resource consents. We acknowledge the constructive working relationship we have with the many groups that make up our community, particularly iwi, as we carefully carried out our assessment of environmental effects prior to lodging our resource consents,” Mr Davie said.

Please view this short video, and see the graphics at the end of this media release, of the future development of the shipping channel and the reclamation.

https://vimeo.com/270012167

Hard-line biosecurity on dirty vessels

Hon Damien O’Connor
Minister for Biosecurity
16 May 2018
MEDIA STATEMENT

New Zealand has become the first country in the world to roll out nationwide biofouling rules to stop dirty vessels from contaminating our waters, says Minister of Biosecurity Damien O’Connor.

“About 90 per cent of non-indigenous marine species in New Zealand, such as Mediterranean fanworm, Japanese kelp and Australian droplet tunicate, arrived on international vessels. These incursions harm our aquaculture industries, fisheries and native marine ecosystems,” says Damien O’Connor.

“Under the new biofouling rules, operators must prove they’ve taken appropriate steps to ensure international vessels arrive with a clean hull.

“The new rules came into force yesterday and will better protect New Zealand’s unique marine environment and other vital industries from biosecurity risk.

“Biosecurity New Zealand officers will take a hard line on vessels that can’t provide evidence they meet the rules. Divers will carry out inspections of hulls.

“Officers will also have the power to direct vessels for cleaning and order the vessel to leave New Zealand if the fouling is severe.

“Vessel operators will meet the costs of any compliance order.

“The shipping industry has had four years to prepare for the changes and ignorance of the new requirements will not be accepted.

“The definition of a clean hull will depend on vessel type and its itinerary.

“For example, the rules are stricter for vessels that are staying in New Zealand for a long time with the intention of visiting a range of ports.

“I strongly encourage all international vessel operators to make sure they know the rules before they arrive in New Zealand,” says Damien O’Connor.

Don’t lose track of rail freight limitations – David Aitken

Rail freight has its place but . . .

Rail freight has its place but . . .

OPINION: The Government has been talking about getting freight off the country’s roads and on to alternative sea freight and particularly rail freight.

Rail freight has its place and already its biggest customer is the road freight transport industry.

But it also has its limitations.

If Europe is any example, nothing much will change, despite the Government and KiwiRail’s best efforts. Trucks will always be required to deliver a large portion of the country’s freight demand.

While bulk freight can be transported by rail or sea, market demand in the freight industry will dictate how customers want their goods moved.

Since 2000 the European Union has provided policies and incentives to shift freight off the road to rail, coastal shipping and Europe’s extensive canal system.

They haven’t worked.

Road still carries about 75 percent of all Europe’s freight.

The total tonnage carried by rail and other modes has gone up but so has road freight, so the proportion each carries has remained about the same.

The market has continued to decide which form of freight to use, rather than incentives and tax breaks.

Improvements to rail infrastructure in Europe have only resulted in small increases in rail freight carried, so rail has been reluctant to make large capital expenditure, because the returns aren’t there.

The same is likely to apply to New Zealand.

Road freight will always be preferred for any perishable goods because it can carry out the task faster – apart from much more expensive air freight.

Road freight has greater service quality – quicker door to door delivery times and greater safety with less chance of damaged goods, which usually occurs when the freight is changed from one mode to another.

Even when rail or sea is used, trucks are often needed to get goods to the rail hub or sea port to start the journey and then pick them up to make the final delivery.

Highly competitive costs within the road freight sector make it more appealing to customers than the alternatives.

Road freight has flexible route choices. Rail and sea do not with only a few fixed routes.

Road freight will nearly always be used for the “last miles” as customers want door to door delivery.

Rail is only generally better when the type of goods (very large or non-urgent) can be shipped by train instead of road.

This occurs when a customer places all their business with a road freight operator who then decides the best way to ship it to meet deadlines or budget.

Improving New Zealand’s rail services and infrastructure will be taxpayer funded and subsidised. Improvements in road freight transport – newer fleet with cleaner emissions, less noise – are paid for by the trucking companies and their customers.

Rail will only ever handle a small proportion of the country’s total freight as 90 percent of road freight is done within metropolitan/urban areas where rail and sea are not an option.

With the increased investment in the rail sector, KiwiRail remain a commercial operating arm of the government, this is likely to require rail price increases to cover the investment costs, closing the gap between road and rail pricing, making the later less attractive to freight customers.

National Road Carriers is the leading nationwide organisation representing companies involved in the road transport industry. It has 1700 members, who collectively operate 15,000 trucks throughout New Zealand.

David Aitken is the chief executive of the  National Road Carriers Association

 – Stuff

Japan Catches Up With Shipping Consolidation

Japan has caught up with a wave of consolidation sweeping the shipping industry, with its three biggest carriers merging their container operations to compete with bigger rivals in Asia and Europe.

Mitsui O.S.K. Lines (MOL), Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha Ltd. 9107 1.20% , (K-Line) and Nippon Yusen Kabushiki Kaisha NPNYY -0.23% (NYK Line) pumped $3 billion into the merged company called Ocean Network Express (ONE) that kicked off operations last month as the world’s sixth largest container operator, with a combined fleet of 230 vessels.

“A large company buys a small company and grows bigger, such deals have been repeated in the past, but this is the first time (in shipping) that three companies jointly start a new business on an equal footing,” Junichiro Ikeda, MOL’s chief executive, said in an interview.

MOL is the leading partner in ONE.

ONE controls close to 7% of global container market, well below the double-figure shares of the top three carriers, Denmark’s Maersk Line, Switzerland’s Mediterranean Shipping Co. and France’s CMA CGM SA.

Container shipping moves roughly $4 trillion worth of manufactured goods annually, from designer dresses to electronics, food and heavy machinery.

But a glut of tonnage in the water and vicious price wars have pushed freight rates well below break-even levels over the past few years, sinking most operators deeply into the red and pushing some out of business.

The crisis pushed the fragmented industry to consolidate, with the world’s 20 biggest operators shrinking to seven over the past three years that control about three-quarters of total container capacity.

It also triggered a reckoning among policy makers in many countries, from Germany to Japan, that have seen commercial shipping as a key strategic asset for their economies. The failure of South Korea’s Hanjin Shipping in 2016 sent shock waves around the world and particularly in Seoul, where the world’s eighth-largest container line was considered an important cog in the country’s export-driven economy.

People involved in the ONE merger told The Wall Street Journal it was seen as a must, as carriers with a 3% share or below are expected to go out of business or swallowed up by bigger players.

Although still small in global terms, ONE is dominant in intra-Asia trade lanes and is the biggest player in moving Asian exports to the U.S. across the Pacific, with a 16% market share, according to maritime data provider IHS Markit . It also controls 37% of container capacity in and out of Japan, the world’s third-largest economy.

“I think future trade will grow mainly in these regions, and the market share (that) ONE holds is never small,” MOL’s Mr. Ikeda said.

He declined to comment on the impact of possible trade tariffs in talks between the U.S. and China.

Consolidation gives shippers fewer carriers to choose from and some may move away from ONE to other operators, but Mr. Ikeda insists he isn’t worried.

“If you focus on the services that come to and go from Japan, our competitors are totally incomparable with us,” he said. “In terms of frequency…. ONE is superior. Therefore, even if customers seek choice desperately, they don’t have much of a choice.”

ONE, which set up its headquarters in Singapore, launched operations April 1 to a rocky start. Brokers and freight forwarders said shippers in the first 20 days of operation faced problems booking cargo slots and communicating with the carrier.

The carrier said the problems were the result of setting up a new IT system and difficulties moving staff from the three partners to new offices around the world.

“It was surprising and disappointing, given the high efficiency records of the three carriers before they became ONE, but the situation is slowly improving,” a Singapore broker said.

Mr. Ikeda said it would take time for the former rivals to fully integrate.

“Although all of them are Japanese companies, there are differences in doing things among them,” he said. “Their mutual understanding has deepened during the preparatory period, but I consider it to be a big challenge to unify the way to conduct business in a real sense.”

The operators have a deep reach into global trade, from consumer goods to raw industrial commodities.

MOL on its own is the world’s biggest natural gas carrier, operating 76 ships out of a total global fleet of 440 vessels, and plans to add another 19 LNG carriers to its fleet over the next few years.

In container trade, ONE is part of THE Alliance, one of three major shipping groups that also includes Germany’s Hapag-Lloyd AG and Taiwan’s Yang Ming Marine Transport Corp.

Alliance members share networks, ships and port calls, saving billions of dollars each year in fuel, port handling and other expenses. They are using giant ships that can move more than 20,000 containers.

THE Alliance already has six such vessels and plans to order six more by the end of this year, despite concerns that the behemoths may exacerbate overcapacity and add pressure to freight rates.

Mr. Ikeda doesn’t expect a flood of new orders because carriers expect only moderate growth in shipping demand, and “everyone understands the situation that way.”
Source: Wall Street Journal

Northport Joins Country’s Container Sector

May 11 marked Northport’s arrival on the New Zealand container port scene, when Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) makes its first export loading on the newly-revamped Kiwi Express schedule.

Coming as part of a larger service restructure, the new fortnightly call on the Singapore-Jakarta-Brisbane-Sydney-Auckland-Tauranga-Wellington-Napier-Auckland-Northport-Brisbane-Tanjung Pelepas-Singapore rotation has been predicated on fruit exports.

Zespri, New Zealand’s kiwifruit industry co-operative, is a key backer of the development. Northland produces about 3.5m trays of kiwifruit each year and it has been estimated that exporting directly from Northport will potentially save NZ$66 of the NZ$102 cost per pallet of the alternative of transporting to the Port of Tauranga for despatch.

MSC containership Northern Diplomat delivered 158 empty containers to the port on April 20 in preparation for the first export loading on the service, which Northport commercial manager David Finchett hopes will continue beyond the current fruit export season.

“Our goal is to build cargo volumes to the point where the service becomes regular instead of seasonal,” he says. “If we can demonstrate consistent demand for this shipping link from Northland importers and exporters there is no reason why it should not become a weekly service instead of a fortnightly one.”

Interislander ferries to Nelson for annual maintenance

KiwiRail’s Interislander ferry Kaiarahi heads across to Nelson at the end of this week, marking the start of an annual maintenance and inspection programme for all three ferries

KiwiRail General Manager Interislander Operations, Mark Thompson, says Kaiarahi will be in Nelson for in-water maintenance before sailing to Sydney for dry-docking.

“This year all three ferries – Kaiarahi, Aratere and Kaitaki – will undergo scheduled maintenance and inspections from mid- May until mid-August.

“Once the Kaiarahi returns into service the Aratere will then head to Nelson and onto Sydney. And finally, when Aratere returns, Kaitaki will then undertake survey and maintenance here in Wellington.

“We always carry out this critical work over the quieter winter months, so we minimise disruption to our freight and passenger customers. While each ferry is out of service, timetables will be adjusted so we continue to run services in the most important timeslots for our customers,” Mr Thompson says.

“For the six-week period that Aratere is away we will provide a road bridging operation, using road trailers and intermodal equipment to ensure uninterrupted transport of rail freight between islands.”

Kaiarahi will undergo maintenance including painting and steelworks, and inspections in Nelson.

“We chose Nelson for the in-water part of the programme because it has a good marine engineering resources and favourable weather at this time of year,” Mr Thompson says.

While in Sydney work will also be done to Kaiarahi and Aratere to make them more fuel efficient.

“Both ferries will undergo annual, five-year and 20-year surveys – the marine equivalent of warrants of fitness – on critical equipment and components. These are carried out by international surveyors.”

Fire causes poisoning in ship’s hold, investigation launched into Napier Port incident

Maritime New Zealand has confirmed an investigation would be carried out and it was likely to be several weeks before it was concluded. Photo / File
Photo / File

An investigation has been launched into an incident aboard a logging ship in Napier Port on Monday night which resulted in six workers being taken to hospital with carbon monoxide poisoning.

While four of the workers were discharged after initial treatment two, a man in his early 20s and one in his late 30s, remained in hospital in a general ward overnight and were eventually discharged early yesterday afternoon.

A Napier Port spokesperson said staff from the stevedoring company ISO, which worked with log exporter Ernslaw One, were affected in the emergency callout.

Maritime New Zealand has confirmed an investigation would be carried out and it was likely to be several weeks before it was concluded.

Investigators, who were at the port yesterday, would be working with ISO and the shipping company and the investigation would include scene investigations and interviews.

The incident happened about 8pm while the crews were at work on the log ship Nord Yilan.

Fire crews and St John Ambulance paramedics were called to the scene after it is understood a turbo system on the engine of a digger/loader failed and billowed exhaust smoke through the hold area.

A fire service spokesman said the turbo unit on the engine blew and billowed exhaust fumes, causing the workers in the hold to be affected.

Other port workers were able to remove the digger from the hold before the fire service arrived.