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25th March 2018

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Port workers vote for another longer strike

Striking Lyttelton Port workers have voted on another even longer round of strike action as the industrial dispute deepens.

Rail and Maritime Transport Union  organiser John Kerr

Rail and Maritime Transport Union organiser John Kerr Photo: RNZ / Alex Harmer

The 200 members of the Rail and Maritime Transport Union are in the midst of a seven day long strike that finishes at midnight on Sunday.

They want to be paid the same as the 200 members of a rival union working at the port.

The port says it is only willing to do this if they agree to work the same flexible hours the rival union has agreed to.

Union spokesperson John Kerr said he was hoping to resume negotiations once members went back to work on Monday.

He said if these were not successful then workers would resume striking for three weeks starting 8 April.

Meanwhile, National’s workplace relations spokesperson Michael Woodhouse has accused the union of thuggish behaviour.

He said Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern should condemn the handing out of pamphlets on the streets where port company directors live.

The pamphlets handed out by port workers on Monday included the names and addresses of directors, and information about the strike.

Mr Woodhouse says they were designed to get people to approach board members directly and put pressure on them.

The workers had been emboldened by the new Labour-led government and should be reminded such bully boy tactics are not acceptable.

He says there is no place for personal attacks and abuse in negotiations over pay and conditions.

LPC’s strike update from 20 March 2018

Strike starts midnight tonight at Lyttelton Port
Strikes will begin at midnight tonight at Lyttelton Port by the Rail and Maritime Union (RMTU). The Union is striking for five days (21 to 25 March inclusive).
However, we now have certainty there will be no strikes at Lyttelton Port the following week – from Monday March 26 to Monday 2 April, inclusive. The Union must give us fourteen days’ notice of strike action and no such notices have been received for any days in that week.

We have made a generous salary increase offer to RMTU members – a workforce which is already well paid. We want to resolve the dispute but we cannot accept the Union’s unreasonable salary increase demands.

At the end of this message we have provided LPC’s Media Statement, issued today, which gives further clarity about our position.

We appreciate your continuing patience during this difficult time. If you have any questions regarding the industrial action place discuss them with your usual LPC contact.

Operations during Strike Period

Berthing Vessels
LPC will be unable to berth any vessels during the strike period. This includes Container, Coal, Bulk, Tankers and any vessel requiring pilot and/or tug assistance.

LCT Operations
The Container Terminal will not be stevedoring any container vessels or coal vessels during the strike period.

The Container Terminal and Empty Container Yard (ECY) will be open for Receival and Delivery of cargo between the hours of 0700 and 1500 Monday – Saturday.

No services will be available on Sunday.

We will be able to continue Reefer Power and Monitoring services at the Terminal.

Train capacity between KiwiRail Container Terminal and Lyttelton Container Terminal will be limited to one train per day. Customers should contact KiwiRail to discuss contingencies.

We will continue to receive cargo with a valid booking number for vessels scheduled to call at Lyttelton. However shippers should consult directly with their shipping lines to determine what contingency plans are in place for export cargo prior to bringing cargo into the Port.

Where port omissions are likely and customers have the ability to hold cargo at their facilities, or at alternate facilities, we would appreciate these options being considered to assist with potential capacity issues at the Port which could result from cargo build up.

Due to the fluid nature of this situation we will continue to monitor our approach to receiving export cargo and keep you updated.

CityDepot and MidlandPort
Neither CityDepot nor MidlandPort will be affected by the strikes. For those customers that use these facilities for full cargo, we are monitoring yard and rail capacity closely and will liaise with you if we start seeing a build-up of cargo. If vessel calls are uncertain, we would ask that cargo is held on site where possible. Train capacity between MidlandPort and LCT will be limited to one train service.


Marketing Manager

Lyttelton Port Company MEDIA STATEMENT


Lyttelton Port Company’s offer of parity with the other major Union at the Port has been refused by the Rail and Maritime Transport Union (RMTU) which will begin striking at midnight tonight. RMTU is striking from 21 to 25 March inclusive.

LPC’s Operations Manager, Paul Monk, says RMTU does not want parity with the other major Union at the Port, the Maritime Union of New Zealand (MUNZ) – it wants an unfair advantage over it.

“RMTU members want the same salary increase their MUNZ colleagues received but without making the roster changes MUNZ accepted a year ago.

“RMTU claims there’s a safety issue associated with the new roster agreed to by their MUNZ colleagues.

“MUNZ members have had no safety issues since they took it on. MUNZ is fine with it.

“The RMTU wants the same money as MUNZ but they don’t want to work the new roster – they don’t want to do equal work.

“We want to stop the enormous disruption the RMTU strikes will have on shipping lines, importers and exporters. For this reason, we have dropped our request for them to make any roster changes. We have offered them a salary rise of 3% a year each year for three years, with no changes to their roster or the way they work.

“We have made a generous offer to what is a well-paid workforce which already receives well above the average Kiwi’s wage.

“That offer is just 1% less than their MUNZ colleagues received. RMTU is hanging out for that extra 1%. They want the extra money without agreeing to the roster changes MUNZ made. This is not parity.

“When the strikes begin at midnight tonight our container wharves will be empty. Shipping is the lifeblood of our region’s trade. Lyttelton Port manages over half the South Island’s container volume. The RMTU strikes will stop the Port’s heartbeat.

“We are committed to resolving the dispute and we remain prepared to reach a settlement with the RMTU but we are faced with a Union that will not budge on any of its demands.”


Reopening of Napier-Wairoa rail delayed after heavy flooding

IMPACT: Damage sustained by the Napier rail line during heavy flooding last week is likely to delay the re-opening of the rail to Wairoa. Photo/Supplied.
IMPACT: Damage sustained by the Napier rail line during heavy flooding last week is likely to delay the re-opening of the rail to Wairoa. Photo/Supplied.

The reopening of the Napier-Wairoa rail line is expected to be delayed after heavy flooding last week left sections of rail “hanging in the air”.

Heavy rain and flash flooding last week damaged parts of the line, including one large wash-out affecting more than 100m of track, along with multiple smaller wash-outs, and debris such as trees on the line.

The impact of the weather event is still being assessed by KiwiRail, but it expects it may delay the re-opening of the Napier-Wairoa line.

Work on reopening the mothballed line had been under way for only 10 days when the rain hit.

Yesterday KiwiRail Group General Manager Network Services Henare Clarke said “for this to happen so soon after we started work is a setback, but we will overcome it”.

“The initial work that was already under way will continue while we assess the latest damage and come up with a plan,” he said.

“Where possible, we will look to combine the rebuild work that had already been programmed with the repairs to damage from last week’s severe weather”.

Parts of the rail line appear to have been shunted out of alignment. Photo/Supplied. Parts of the rail line appear to have been shunted out of alignment. Photo/Supplied.

Work began two days after the Government announced a $5 million contribution toward the line.

The first log train was expected to run on the line by the end of the year. While the damage was expected to impact the reopening, it was not known yet what any delay might be.

“This is a fairly complex process and inspections of the line are continuing, but we expect to have a clearer idea of the repairs needed in the coming week.”

This is not the first delay for the line – it was initially hoped to be opened by October 2017.

Hawke’s Bay Regional transport committee chairman Alan Dick said he did not see the need for an “inordinate” delay – as the funding had been granted, and the need for the rail was increasingly urgent.

“Other than these washouts, it’s been in pretty good condition.

“If the reopening of the line extends beyond the end of this year, it’s putting the whole deal in jeopardy, in my view.”

He also questioned how the washout was able to happen.

It appears when the Esk River broke its banks, the flooding pushed sections of rail out of alignment, or left parts “floating in the air”.

Eskdale resident Chris Geddis spotted a 30m section of Bay View rail which was running along unsupported, as the ballast underneath had been washed away.

A A “wall of water” left this Eskdale section of rail unsupported. PHOTO/CHRIS GEDDIS.

The shingle – meant to be underneath the rail line – was instead strewn over State Highway 5.

In a way it’s kind of funny, there’s supposed to be a wall of wood coming from Wairoa along it, and it was a wall of water that took it out.”

Last week’s deluge also led to the flooding of over 80 homes, and the closure of some roads for several weeks as debris is cleared.

Hawke’s Bay Regional Council had already set aside $5.4m towards the project. A spokesman said KiwiRail were responsible for the maintenance of the line.

LPC strike update 14/3/18


Wednesday 14th March 2018




This is to advise that the Rail and Transport Union (RMTU) has withdrawn its strike notices for this Thursday and Friday (15 – 16 March) at Lyttelton Port as a gesture of ‘goodwill’ as we try to resolve the current dispute.
Unfortunately, due to the late timing of this offer by the Union, there is very little operational activity planned for the Port over these days.
We are also very aware of customer feedback that the Union’s previous withdrawal of strike notices came too late to divert most shipping back to our Port.
As a result, we have today asked RMTU to extend the withdrawal of its strike notices to Tuesday 20 March.

We believe this would genuinely show some goodwill to the exporters and importers of Canterbury and allow for some meaningful shipping to occur. We have offered to pay the RMTU members who will be rostered to work on the days strike notices are withdrawn.


In order for shipping lines to make decisions on calling or omitting Lyttelton Port this weekend we have given the RMTU until 3pm this afternoon to advise us whether they will withdraw strike notices for the extended period we have requested (Thursday 15 March to Tuesday 20 March inclusive).


While we realise this does not resolve the dispute, and uncertainty would remain beyond 20 March, I am sure you will agree the withdrawal of strike notices from the 15th to 20th March would be a positive development.


We have agreed with RMTU’s request for further mediation either Thursday or Friday.


With the withdrawal of strike notices for 15 and 16 March, the Terminal will now be open for continuous Receival and Delivery from midnight Thursday 15 March to 2300 Friday 16 March.


We will advise further once we have a response from the RMTU.






Simon Munt


Marketing Manager


LPC Notices

 | Lyttelton Port Company

T: +64 3 328 8198   E: notices@lpc.co.nz

Shipping into a changing world

The International Shipping Industry still remains the only way to move the majority of minerals, energy products and manufactured goods between the nations of the world.

Indeed it is still estimated that shipping carries 90% of World Physical Trade.

However given the huge changes that have occurred in many countries there is concern that the demand for shipping services may not grow but in fact decline.

As the various conferences that meet annually at this time of year discuss the economics and operational issues of the shipping industry it is concerning that the shipping companies that are publically traded in a few stock markets represent the worst performing sector in those markets.

Furthermore the banks that have historically financed shipping have mostly withdrawn and a few of the remaining German banks are showing billions of dollars of losses and provisions.

Private equity and hedge funds looking to buy these banks are not showing support for shipping but the ability to liquidate the portfolios over the next few years at a profit.

Meanwhile the biggest financiers of shipping today are the huge Chinese Leasing companies which together with the Chinese and Korean Exim banks are financing new ships being built in China and Korea with the objective of keeping freight rates down for the benefit of Chinese and Korean industries that rely on ships for the import of raw materials and export of manufactured goods.

The arrival of the speculative equity and hedge funds at the beginning of this decade changed the way shipping companies had traditionally operated, namely as the service industry to world trade. The security of longterm time charters with major cargo interests whose own credit standing supported the cash flow was discarded in favor of the spot markets enabling the ships to be sold as soon as their values generated a profit.

The longer this speculative period went so the cash flow problems worsened as the spot markets failed to produce constant income while the operating and financing costs continued.

Furthermore the major charterers became reluctant to charter these speculative ships or allow their charters to be included in any sale. This was clear evidence of the importance of the relationships between shipowners and charterers which have always been important given the issues that always exist in operating ships in the oceans of the world.

Shipowners and particularly those that appeared in the equity markets, were encouraged to order new ships in the false belief that the Chinese would continue to pay high freight rates as their manufacturing economy continued to expand.

It took some 5 years for the cargo interests to react to the high freight rates which for instance had caused the shipping cost of a ton of iron ore from Brazil to China to reach 60% of the landed price of the cargo.

The cargo interests understood that by encouraging more newbuildings in both the raw material imports and the finished goods so the freight costs could be minimized. Thus the Chinese have got the shipping cost of iron ore from Brazil down to 10% of the landed price.

The same applies to the container sector with the giant ships pushing rates lower and the owners facing huge operating losses

Add to this the Korean and Chinese Exim bank financing and the involvement of huge Chinese leasing companies and we continue to see the orderbook grow while few shipowners show any profits.

False optimism that “dry bulk markets look positive” or that “the USA exporting crude oil will be good for the VLCC markets” simply encourage new orders for ships and will not improve the operating profits for these sectors.

Thus it is the cargo interests that control the economics of the shipping industry today and ship values will continue to depreciate if they continue to trade in the spot markets.

Consolidation of shipping companies will have no effect unless it enables the shipowners to secure period charters and improve their income streams, fully maintain the ships, employ quality crews and afford the new costs of ballast water treatment and cleaning up the engine exhausts.

Docked wages the sticking point over Lyttelton port strike

Lyttelton port workers at a protest over wages and rosters outside the Christchurch City Council building last week.

Lyttelton port workers at a protest over wages and rosters outside the Christchurch City Council building last week.
 More talks between Lyttelton Port and unions have failed to overcome an impasse and a fortnight of strike action will begin from midnight – unless there is a last minute agreement.

Rail and Maritime Transport Union organiser John Kerr said the sticking point was the port company’s refusal to pay full wages for about 70 cargo handlers over last Thursday and Friday.

LPC Operations Manager Paul Monk said 54 union staff were affected between Thursday and Saturday, “days for which the union gave late notice of withdrawing its strike action”.

Work will stop after midnight Monday March 12 unless there is a breakthrough in talks with the Rail and Maritime ...

Work will stop after midnight Monday March 12 unless there is a breakthrough in talks with the Rail and Maritime Transport Union.

“These staff lost pay for between one and three shifts depending on when they had been rostered to work.”

The union gave notice of strike action for the two days, then withdrew it. The port company said it had to divert ships meaning there was no ship loading work on those days.

Kerr claimed a rough estimate of the cost to Lyttelton Port of paying the wages would be about $33,000.

Kerr said this meant that for a relatively small sum the port company was prepared to lose much more in revenue, with a knock-on effect to freight companies and Canterbury importers and exporters.

Monk said staff who lost work were “in a wide range of roles at the port with varying responsibilities and wages. This makes it challenging to provide an average cost”.

“Due to the wide variety of shipping and ancillary services it is also difficult to give the complete range of costs for ship diversions,” Monk said.

Kerr said the union  put forward two options as a framework for settlement early on Monday.

“We’re ready to talk again at any time but there’s an excess of testosterone at the bargaining table.

“We’ll be holding peaceful pickets outside freight firms to give people information.”

A Lyttelton Port spokeswoman said recent industrial disruption had cost shipping lines and Canterbury freight firms.

The Canterbury Employers Chamber of Commerce chief executive Leanne Watson said none of her members reported being affected yet, but they would be if two weeks of strike action took place.

The port company said it had to reorganise the arrival of more than eight vessels between Sunday night and Monday.

“International shipping does not usually allow for vessel diversion with less than seven days notice.

“Managing the return of vessels to our port over the weekend has come at a significant cost and disruption to the shipping lines and Canterbury shippers, who had already diverted cargo to other ports or cancelled export bookings.”

The company reiterated its “generous” offer of a 3 per cent salary increase each year for three years while asking for no changes in their conditions of work.

“This means we are no longer asking them to make the roster changes, agreed to a year ago by their Maritime Union of New Zealand colleagues, which would allow us to offer customers more flexible servicing of their vessels.

“Because of Maritime Union members’ flexibility in accepting the new roster they received a salary increase of 4 per cent this year and 3 per cent for the next two years.

“Rail and Maritime Transport Union want the same salary increases as their Maritime Union colleagues while refusing to make the same roster changes,” the port company said.

KiwiRail freight moving along Kaikoura line again after big clean up

One of the slips along the Kaikoura highway at Jacob's Ladder after clearing and terracing.

One of the slips along the Kaikoura highway at Jacob’s Ladder after clearing and terracing.
 KiwiRail freight services are on the move again along the main north line between Picton and Christchurch after repairs to damage caused by former Cyclone Gita.

​Group general manager Todd Moyle said all four scheduled services ran last night after the work was completed by KiwiRail and North Canterbury Transport Infrastructure Recovery teams.

“Much of the work focused on clearing the debris flows triggered by the exceptional levels of rain. We have been able to largely restore the track to the same condition it was prior to the storm. ”

Loss of earnings and repair work on the line have been one of the causes of KiwiRail’s recent $193 million loss, with a revenue shortfall of about $25m attributed to the main north line.

Most of the freight carried on the main north line is general merchandise and commodities including malt and grain. Quantities were commercially sensitive, a spokesman said.

KiwiRail is restricted to night services to allow road crews to continue working safely during the day.

The highway is also back in action during daylight hours from 7.30am to 7.30pm with the Hundalees the most affected area, reduced to one-lane traffic.

Rainfall levels in the Kaikoura area during the Gita storm were the highest recorded since the November 2016 earthquake with one site showing 300 millimetres in 15 hours – more than three times the usual monthly average.

“Our teams also took advantage of the line being closed to bring forward other works. One of the temporary bridges put in to enable the early re-opening in September has been replaced with a new permanent structure,” Moyle said.

“Our teams will continue to focus on works that improve the reliability of the line and reduce transit times, so we can better support our customers and resume pre-earthquake levels of operations as soon as possible.”

About 300,000 cubic metres of material had been spread across 60 sites from Parnassus to Clarence, closing road and rail.

 – Stuff

Nearly 2000 truck trailer owners to be contacted by NZTA over tow connections

Structural cracks on a cross-member in the skid plate / king pin assembly of a
refrigerated trailer.

Structural cracks on a cross-member in the skid plate / king pin assembly of a refrigerated trailer.

The NZ Transport Agency has written to the owners of 1800 heavy vehicles requiring their towing connections to be assessed by a specialist certifier and new certifications issued.

The action follows safety alerts issued by the agency after three incidents of cracking in truck trailers or trailer connections.

But the freight industry appears to be downplaying the significance of the problem, possibly because many trucks are owned by drivers who work for the large firms.

Crack identified on trailer’s drawbar after about two years in service.

Crack identified on trailer’s drawbar after about two years in service.

One of the country’s biggest freight firms, Freightways, said it had no issues and wouldn’t comment further.

NZ Trucking Association chief executive Dave Boyce said said he’d had little feedback from members, and so did Road Transport Association chief executive Dennis Robertson, who said cost might become an issue.

The safety alert was the first step in identifying and re-certifying all potentially affected vehicles that have had towing connections certified by Nelson-based Peter Wastney Engineering over the past 10 years.

Independent engineering reviews had established that drawbeams and drawbars identified with cracks and other issues were not adequately designed for the loads to which they had been certified.

The safety alert requires all operators with drawbeams, towbars, or drawbars certified by Peter Wastney Engineering to urgently have them cleaned and inspected for signs of cracks or other failures.

If any cracks or failures are found, operators have been instructed to replace affected parts before using it as a combination vehicle.

A separate safety alert has been issued providing advice on separate issues identified with skid plate couplings for refrigerated trucks.

The safety alert is focusing on monocoque refrigerator semi-trailers primarily but recommends checking of all semi-trailer skid plates as a precaution.

The safety alert follows an incident where the driver of an articulated truck and trailer combination noticed the trailer was not sitting as expected and was able to bring the vehicle to a stop without disconnection.

The safety alert applies to all refrigerated semi-trailers – not just MaxiTrans.

“While the skid plate that failed was a MaxiTrans trailer, the design of other makes of refrigerated semi-trailers is similar, so the alert applies to all refrigerated semi-trailers. We estimate approximately 1000 vehicles could be affected.

In one incident in Nelson-Marlborough in August, a trailer completely disconnected from the truck towing it.

“The trailer failed, it disconnected from the vehicle,” NZ Transport Agency operational standards manager Craig Basher earlier told Radio New Zealand.

In a second incident in December, the driver of a refrigerated semi-trailer noticed the trailer was not sitting as expected. The driver was able to stop the vehicle without the trailer disconnecting.

In the third incident in February, a driver doing a walk around check found a crack that had the potential to “fail catastrophically”, Basher said.

NZTA issued two safety alerts in February related to the incidents, covering almost 3000 truck trailers.

One of the alerts said several recent failures have been identified in both drawbeams and drawbars certified by Peter Wastney Engineering Ltd.

A visual inspection needed to be carried out, if no signs of failure were found, it was recommended the drawbeam/towbar/drawbar be replaced or recertified as soon as possible, NZTA said in Q&A advice. That may involve re-strengthening.

Stuff approached Peter Wastney Engineering Ltd for comment but this was declined.

The second alert covers skid plate failures on all refrigerated semi-trailers.

Work underway already on Wairoa to Napier railway line

Two days after the Government announced it would put $5 million towards reopening the rail line, work is underway. Photo / Warren Buckland
Two days after the Government announced it would put $5 million towards reopening the rail line, work is underway. Photo / Warren Buckland

After years of planning with the regional council and Napier Port, KiwiRail yesterday wasted no time in beginning work to reopen the mothballed Napier to Wairoa rail line.

Just two days after the Government announced it would put $5 million towards reopening the rail line, contractors are already working away.

“Contractors will start cutting back vegetation at Eskdale and will be working north over coming weeks,” said KiwiRail’s acting group general manager, network services, Henare Clarke.

“A fortnight after that work on the line’s drains and culverts will begin.

“The first log train is expected to run on the line by the end of the year.

“This is a good time to remind people to expect trains or machinery travelling on the track at all times.

“It is six years since the line between Wairoa and Napier was in regular use, so people will need to take extra care around it now that work is under way.

“The work will see an increase in movements along that track. Everyone needs to expect trains and other rail vehicles using the line at any time from either direction.

“They should only cross the line at level crossings – to cross the line anywhere else is both dangerous and illegal.”

The work is funded through a $5m Government grant from its new Provincial Growth Fund.

Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Regional Economic Fletcher Tabuteau said a key component of the coalition agreement between Labour and New Zealand First was the establishment of a $1 billion-a-year regional development fund.

“This Government is committed to our regions and the Provincial Growth Fund demonstrates how serious we are about providing economic opportunities to all parts of New Zealand.”

Hawkes Bay Regional Council had already set aside $5.4m towards the project.

Council strategic development group manager Tom Skerman said the Government’s additional $5 million financial injection was huge validation and a boost for the project.

The council would now continue to work on commercial arrangements with customers who will use the line.

He said HBRC, KiwiRail and Napier Port wanted to ensure the introduction of additional funding would achieve the Government’s regional growth and network resilience aspirations.

Local Government NZ president Dave Cull said the country’s economic growth strategy needed to consider the nation as a whole and the Government’s commitment to much greater investment in regions was a welcome step.

“Ensuring our regions are equipped to meet the challenges ahead is crucial and the Provincial Growth Fund will be a significant tool in achieving this.”

Port and road groups support Taranaki rail network feasibility study

A rail bike tourism venture had replaced locomotives on the Stratford Taumarunui line.

Port Taranaki has the facilities and infrastructure to make logs-on-rail practical and economically viable, its chief executive says.

Regional economic development minister Shane Jones last week announced the start of rail feasibility studies in Taranaki, Kawerau and Southland to improve rail connections in the three regions.

The focus of the $250,000 rail study in New Plymouth would be on forestry exports, Jones said.

More rail/road hubs, such as Smart Road hub, may be needed if the rail network was upgraded in Taranaki.

More rail/road hubs, such as Smart Road hub, may be needed if the rail network was upgraded in Taranaki.

The funding for the feasibility study is part of the coalition government’s $8.75m handout for regional rail initiatives from the provincial growth fund.

Port Taranaki had been in discussions with KiwiRail for the past 12 months about initiatives to develop a rail option for log exports, chief executive Guy Roper said.

KiwiRail locomotive at Stratford railway station transporting general freight.

KiwiRail locomotive at Stratford railway station transporting general freight.
 “We have been well across this and believe it is important to help drive regional economic growth, supporting the wider region that Port Taranaki services.”

Port Taranaki’s log volumes have been increasing with exports up 36 per cent in 2016-17, and 63 per cent for half year result to December 31 2017.

Last year 486,000 tonnes of logs were shipped from Port Taranaki.

The trend was expected to continue as demand from overseas increased, he said.

Port Taranaki had the on-site rail facilities and storage areas and could enhance berth access to maximise operations for rail, Roper said.

“It can be handled now. We have the rail line, storage, land available and exporter interest to quickly and effectively service not just the Taranaki region but the forestry industry in the southern region of the North Island.”

Bringing more logs to the port through rail would result in increased ship visits and also ease the pressure on the region’s roads, he said.

New Zealand Forestry Ltd Taranaki regional manager Cam Eyre✓ said the industry had been working on how to improve transport links within Taranaki for several years and the government’s announcement was a positive sign.

“We support the study and believe it would be positive for the industry if costs can be reduced transporting logs by rail from marginal forest areas,” he said.

Eyre said the volume of logs carried by rail would need to be high.

Any feasibility study would look at log prices and volume to ensure the rail network was sustainable, he said.

“A study would be a good start to draw a line in the sand on what the forestry industry can, and cannot do.”

Eyre was unsure if a new railhead was established and the network upgraded to carry more logs, whether it would mean less trucks on the road.

“It comes down to how much volume of logs can be transported on rail.

“It has to work cost-wise with the forestry owner, and not every log will go on a train.

“Until we have a robust rail network there will still be trucks operating on the road.”

Road Transport Industry Taranaki regional executive member Tom Cloke​ welcomed the study and believed it could create more work for the transport industry.

“There’s always been a place for rail but the study would need to look at the infrastructure needed and logistics in setting up a network,” he said.

“Any rail network would need a robust transport system to and from the rail head to load and deliver.”

To be competitive, rail would need to be able to shift a variety of freight, not just logs, quickly and efficiently, he said.

New Plymouth MP Jonathan Young said the study would need to focus on the cost benefit ratio for the Taranaki region.

“What the economic advantage is of putting more logs on rail is the big question mark,” he said.

“It will identify a number of shortcomings such as increased costs from double handling, and associated health and safety issues.”

In a press release KiwiRail chief executive Peter Reidy said rail helped reduce congestion on roads, cut carbon emissions, made roads safer and lowered spending on road maintenance and upgrades.

A recent study showed the costs savings totalled $1.5 billion, he said.

KiwiRail transported around 25 per cent of the country’s exports and played a critical role in regional tourism, he said.

Fonterra logistics network manager Andrew Cleland said the company worked closely with KiwiRail to ensure the network has capacity to support its transport needs.

“We are interested in the rail feasibility studies and look forward to reviewing the results with KiwiRail in due course,” he said.

 – Stuff