China allocates $117 bn to expand Railway network

BEIJING: China will pump in $ 117 billion for the second consecutive year to add 35 new projects to the world’s second-largest railway network as it aims to halt the slowdown of the economy through massive state investments.

Construction of 35 new railway projects will begin in 2017 to expand the network, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.

The report cited unnamed officials as saying that construction will start on 2,100 km of new rail lines, 2,500 km of double-trac ..

 

SOUTHDOWN PREPPED FOR MEGA SHIPS

Two rail sidings at KiwiRail’s Southdown freight hub have been transformed to accommodate “giant” forklifts able to carry 80 tonnes of containers in order to improve the transfer of freight around the North Island generated by the new “mega ships” calling at the Port of Tauranga.

KiwiRail chief executive Peter Reidy says the upgrade illustrates his business’ commitment to support its customers’ growing demand in the aim of working collaboratively to “boost New Zealand’s exports and grow the economy”.

“The increasing traffic from North Island ports and the arrival of mega ships carrying thousands of containers means KiwiRail needs to ensure we have the capacity to support this increased demand,” he says.

“As well as enabling our customers, the upgrade will lead to improved safety, increased reliability and greater efficiency of our rail services.

“We now have two, top-class tracks with a 50-year life.”

Involving 1200 cubic metres of concrete and 10,000 cubic metres of asphalt, the sidings were transformed in a ten-day, 24-hour operation entailing over 9000 worker hours.

“Our people did an exceptional job and completed the project on time and within budget. We are very proud to be playing our role in helping to grow New Zealand.”

SHIP FED CHALLENGES ETS

New Zealand’s coastal shipping industry should be exempt from the Government’s Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) in order to remove a “substantial burden” on a sector “that is well understood to be environmentally efficient”.

Such is the tenor of a submission to the New Zealand ETS Review made by New Zealand Shipping Federation executive director Annabel Young.

Ms Young says the recent increase in the ETS charge to 1.42 cents per litre will add a substantial operational cost on her members, which international vessels bunkering in New Zealand are exempt from.

“This gives those ships a legislated advantage over New Zealand-based ships,” states Ms Young.

“This is significant as the international and New Zealand-based ships compete directly for local cargo, that is, between New Zealand ports.

“The Federation believes that the same rules should apply to all operators in New Zealand waters.”

Ms Young says it is her members’ understanding that the international norm is for bunker fuel to be considered outside various carbon disincentive schemes that are in place around the world.

“We believe that this reflects the wide acceptance of the relative efficiency, especially carbon efficiency, of ship operations.

“Therefore, the Government policy objectives can be best met by ensuring that transport by sea is not penalised by the operation of the ETS.”

HS EAST-WEST SLOTS TO 2M

Hamburg Süd’s container volumes on the major east-west tradelanes will transfer to the 2M alliance of Maersk Line and Mediterranean Shipping Company as of April 1 this year.

Covering Asia-North Europe, Asia-Mediterranean, Trans Atlantic and Trans Pacific services, the new slot purchase agreement has been reached in anticipation of Hamburg Süd terminating its existing agreements in the tradelanes ahead of its acquisition by Maersk.

Hamburg Süd executive board member Frank Smet expressed satisfaction with the development.

“Our customers will benefit from extended port coverage, best transit times, and an increased number of loops in the east-west trades,” he says.

Adds Maersk Line chief operating officer Søren Toft: “Accommodating these additional volumes enables improved utilisation in our fleet and in turn provides opportunities to enhance our customer offering on select trades in our east-west network.”

The parties are expected to soon disclose information about consequent network changes and schedules.

Maersk and Hamburg Süd are party to a number of such operational agreements worldwide.

However, the former has stated this particular agreement is not related to its pending acquisition of what is currently the world’s seventh-largest containerline, with Hamburg Süd operating 130 containerships, equating to total capacity of 625,000 TEU.

Expected to be completed at the end of this year, that acquisition will provide Maersk — already the largest global containerline — with 741 containerships, equating to total capacity of 3.8 million TEU (18.6% share of global capacity).

OTAGO PORT RENEWS STRADDLES

Two newbuild Kalmar straddle carriers are expected to be in operation at Port Otago this September under the port’s ongoing fleet replacement programme.

Replacing two 16-year-old models from Port Otago’s existing fleet of 15 Kalmar twin-lift straddle carriers, the €1.6 million investment will entail one ESC350 and one ESC450 model, which are capable of three-high and four-high container stack lifts respectively.

Port Otago chief executive Geoff Plunket says the new straddle carriers — which are also diesel/electric models — will “definitely” improve operations.

“You only have to look at a car and how it has advanced in the past 16 years,” he notes.

“And clearly, our people like driving the newer machines. They are quieter as well, so a lower noise profile which is important for us at Port Chalmers … much better technology, smoother driving, better lifting. So definitely a step up.”

Mr Plunket says the business aims to introduce new straddle carriers every two to three years and has a policy of deliberately ordering in pairs so as to limit the technological differences across the entire fleet.

In a similar vein, he says the port has also made the deliberate decision to stay faithful to the one manufacturer.

“Our people understand the Kalmars and we have a long-term relationship with them.”

The investment does not form part of Port Otago’s ongoing $45 million Next Generation Project.

SPEED MONITORING PRODUCT FROM EROAD

New Zealand transport technology solutions provider EROAD has expanded its product suite with the launch of Max Speed Alert, in the interests of supporting health and safety compliance.

EROAD New Zealand general manager Tony Warwood says Max Speed Alert provides notifications of excessive speeding, so transport operators can take swift action to protect their drivers, the public and their businesses.

“Max Speed Alert provides timely, accurate information that lets fleet managers act quickly,” he says.

“Fleet managers can then hold discussions about speed exceptions, encouraging drivers to stay under the limit, helping prevent collisions, rol
lovers and unsafe driving behaviour.”

Via Max Speed Alert, EROAD customers can set specific speeds to trigger an alert for different assets — notifications can be set to allow higher or lower maximum limits on different vehicle types. The triggered E-mail noti
fications on excessive speed events include location, date, vehicle and driver details.

In addition to Max Speed Alert notifications, excessive speed events are noted on Over Speed Dashboard in Driver Insight reports. 

OCEANIA LOOP TWEAK

Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) is advising customers the Maersk Brani voyage 703S has had to be withdrawn from its current southbound voyage on the Oceania Loop 2 service to undertake urgent repairs in Manzanillo (Panama).

In a customer notice, the line this week stated that all import cargo onboard the vessel has been discharged at Manzanillo on January 29 and that the northbound vessel, Olga Maersk voyage 648N, is now en route to Manzanillo after calling at Cristobal.

“Export cargo to Philadelphia and Charleston will be discharged at [Manzanillo] and get loaded to a replacement vessel,” stated MSC.

It is understood that all import cargo discharged from the Maersk Brani is to be transferred to the Olga Maersk voyage 706S/706N on the following revised schedule:

  • Auckland February 18
  • Sydney February 22
  • Melbourne February 24
  • Port Chalmers February 28
  • Napier omit
  • Tauranga March 3
  • Auckland March 4
  • Cristobal March 20
  • Philadelphia March 28
  • Charleston March 31

Exports originally booked on the Maersk Brani 703S/703N will now be transferred to the Olga Maersk 706S/706N.

“Clients will be advised for their export bookings originally booked on the Olga Maersk 706S/706N when decision is made by the vessel operator.”

REEFER BOXES DEPLOYED BY MATSON

A fleet of 200 newbuild, high-cube refrigerated containers is being deployed by Matson South Pacific.

Acquired on a long-term lease, the new boxes will replace old, standard equipment which is being taken out of service, says Matson South Pacific general manager John MacLennan.

“Other Pacific Island carriers provide this equipment and Matson have been disadvantaged by not being able to do likewise,” he says

“These units will be deployed on our service to Fiji, Samoas, Tonga, Cook Islands and Niue.”

RE-RETIREMENT FOR MSP’s MACLENNAN

Matson South Pacific (MSP) is to soon have a new local head, with John MacLennan announcing his second entrance to retirement after leading the fledging division of Matson Navigation over the past four years.

“When Matson Navigation purchased Reef from the receivers and established MSP which commenced trading in January 2013, I was asked to come onboard for a six-month contract … four years later I am still here!” quipped Mr MacLennan.

Mr MacLennan, who was chief executive of Pacific Forum Line for almost 30 years before having a one-year relief tenure as the head of Reef Shipping, is to be succeeded by current Matson Pacific northwest operations manager Greg Chu.

Mr Chu, who is now in the throes of relocating from Seattle to New Zealand, commenced his career with Matson in 2004, with prime responsibility for directing vessel stevedoring, terminal and auto operations as well as co-ordinating container operations for the region.

Comments Matson Navigation senior vice-president Vic Angoco: “Greg was SSAT’s vessel operation manager for Terminal 25 at Seattle, which was a dedicated Matson facility and he was instrumental in the move of Matson’s operations from Terminal 25 to Terminal 18 in 2002.

“Prior to that, Greg was SSAT’s vessels superintendent for the Pacific Northwest Portion of Matson’s Pacific Coast Shuttle Service. In addition, Greg worked for Matson Terminals in Los Angeles as superintendent, terminal operations from 1996 to 1998.”

Complementing his maritime experience, Mr Chu is a former Lieutenant Commander in the US Naval Reserves, earning a BS in marine transportation from the US Merchant Marine Academy, Kings Point and MBA in business administration from Loyola Marymount University.

ONEHUNGA TRAFFIC IMPROVEMENTS PRAISED

National Road Carriers (NRC) chief executive David Aitken has praised the traffic improvements being delivered through Onehunga by the East West Link project, noting members have welcomed the Neilson Street Bridge demolition and lower replacement road.

“These changes have improved the sight lines for freight drivers and given them extra space for safe turning,” he says.

“The connection between Neilson Street and Onehunga Wharf Road is now working much more efficiently with our members currently noticing better traffic flows.

“The NRC is committed to keeping New Zealand moving and this new lowered road is making it easier for freight and other heavy vehicles to travel through this important freight hub.”

It is understood drivers of heavy vehicles are also appreciative that they are no longer required to stop for the light changes on the steep gradient that was a feature of the over bridge.

Recently commenced by the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA), the $1.25 billion to $1.85 billion East West Link project will ultimately provide a four-lane road connecting State Highway 20 at Onehunga to State Highway 1 at Mount Wellington.

“This will make it far more efficient and reliable for freight to move through this important industrial and manufacturing area.

“It’s great to see both the NZTA and Auckland Transport aren’t waiting until construction on the wider project gets underway and is getting on with creating early gains and improvements in the area.”