World’s first ship tunnel will stretch 1.7km under mountain in Norway

Construction of the 1.7 kilometre-long tunnel is expected to being in 2018. Pictured is an artist's impression of what ...

Construction of the 1.7 kilometre-long tunnel is expected to being in 2018. Pictured is an artist’s impression of what the entrance to the tunnel will look like.

The world’s first ship tunnel is set to be excavated beneath a Norwegian mountain.

Measuring an expected 1.7 kilometres, the Stad tunnel will allow sailors to bypass a notorious section of the Stadhavet Sea – which has claimed 33 lives in the past 70 years and experiences 100 storm days each year, according to reports.

But the tunnel will not provide a faster route than the current option, just a safer one.

The Stad tunnel will allow boats to pass underneath a mountain as pictured.

The Stad tunnel will allow boats to pass underneath a mountain as pictured.

Construction on the tunnel – which will allow large vessels to pass through – is expected to begin in 2018 and cost NZ $460 million.

Dimensions for the tunnel vary according to reports, but a diagram provided by the Norwegian Coastal Administration, the group responsible for the project, say it will be 37 metres tall, 36m wide and have a water depth of 12m.

A map shows the location of the Stad tunnel and the present, much longer route.

A map shows the location of the Stad tunnel and the present, much longer route.

Excavating the tunnel will require the removal of about 3m cubic metres of rock, according to gCaptain.

Construction is to be carried out with standard blasting and drilling methods and is estimated to be completed in 2029, but could take longer.

An overhead bridge for tourists in the tunnel has also been proposed, according to gCaptain.

The proposed tunnel will be 37 metres tall, 36m wide and 1.7 kilometres long, with a water depth of 12m.

The proposed tunnel will be 37 metres tall, 36m wide and 1.7 kilometres long, with a water depth of 12m.

As well as providing a safer route for ships, the tunnel is expected to boost shipping, fishing and tourism industries.

Politician Bjørn Lødemel said the tunnel would lay the foundation for industrial and regional development and create a world-class tourist destination, as well as shift transport from road to sea, Norwegian news outlet NRK reported

The tunnel’s construction had support from all the country’s major political parties, it was reported.

An artist's impression of how one of the entry points for the Stad tunnel would look.

An artist’s impression of how one of the entry points for the Stad tunnel would look.

The project is expected to have a positive effect on shipping, fishing and tourism industries, among others.

The project is expected to have a positive effect on shipping, fishing and tourism industries, among others.

Introduction of a Vehicle Booking System (VBS) to MetroPort Auckland

Port of Tauranga has advised of the introduction of a VBS for their MetroPort Auckland operation as follows:


Please be advised that we remain on target for the introduction of the ContainerChain VBS to MetroPort Auckland, commencing Monday 20 March 2017.
As of this date, it will be a prerequisite to create truck arrival notifications via the ContainerChain booking system prior to the truck arrival at MetroPort Auckland. The VBS will be available for operators to book transactions from Friday 17 March 2017.
Although it will be a prerequisite to create notifications from Monday 20 March, a six-week “zero invoice” period will remain in place to allow customer and operator process to adjust to the system introduction. After this period, commencing Monday 1 May 2017, a base fee of $6.50 + GST will apply to each notification made.
The terms and conditions of entry to MetroPort Auckland for Container Transport Operators are outlined within the MetroPort Carrier Access Arrangements (CAA). It is a requirement for Container Transport Operators to agree with this arrangement prior to enabling access to the ContainerChain booking system.
The CAA document and the ability to acknowledge acceptance of the terms and conditions in this document are available on the ContainerChain web site, and accessible at:
Rates are posted on the Port of Tauranga web site under “Tariff & Terms” and form part of the terms and conditions of entry.
If you have any questions regarding the use of the booking system or the terms and conditions, please contact 0800 MET VBS or ContainerChain NZ on 0800 702 302.

Auckland commuters promised better ‘March Madness’ service

Sally Murphy – RNZ

It’s that time of year when traffic in Auckland turns into post-holiday hell – and Auckland Transport says it’s using all possible resources to make ‘March Madness’ run more smoothly than last year.

An Auckland bus during last year's March Madness.

An Auckland train during last year’s March Madness. Photo: Supplied / Travel Blog

Auckland Transport recevived more than 1000 complaints last March about the lack of buses and trains to cope with the rush of people going back to work, school and university.

The phenomenon is real: during March, traffic on the motorways increases and the number of people catching public transport goes up by 30 percent.

This year, Auckland Transport is putting on more services to meet demand including 56 more city-bound bus trips every morning.

Operations manager Brendon Main said 1200 more seats would be made available on peak hour trains from 12 March.

“This is as much as we believe we will need to tackle some of the issues encountered last year.

“We are limited in terms of buses but we have put every piece of equipment we can out there on the road.”

Mr Main said a lot of planning had been done to avoid the chaos of last year when buses were overcrowded, late or failed to show up during March.

“We’re out there monitoring the situation as it happens.

“We look at this every year to make sure it’s enough, we’ve put a lot of extra capacity in, especially in some of the problem spots we had last year the most extra capacity in a very long time.”

A bus on Auckland's Queen Street

Auckland Transport is putting on more services to meet demand including 56 more city bound bus trips every morning. Photo: RNZ / Diego Opatowski

Transport Blog editor Matt Lowrie said the extra services were desperately needed.

“Services are extremely busy; trains have been jam-packed, sometimes people can’t get on.

“We’ve heard from some people that have had 12 full buses go past before they can get on one.”

It was great Auckland Transport was putting on extra services before the mad rush began, Mr Lowrie said.

Transport Agency highway manager Brett Gliddon said the agency would be encouraging people to ride share and avoid travelling during peak times.

“Together with Auckland Transport we’ll continue to monitor and manage the entire Auckland transport network through the Auckland Transport Operation Centre, which operates 24 hours a day 7 days a week.

“Operators use a variety of tools such as CCTV cameras, traffic signals, ramp signalling, messaging signs and speed control signs.”

Electric vehicles given pass to use priority lanes

Todd Niall – RNZ

Forget waving your fist at that driver hurtling past you in a priority lane – electric vehicles are allowed to zoom down Auckland motorway on-ramps for the next two weeks.

Auckland motorway

Electric cars can skip the queues and use priority lanes at five Auckland motorway on-ramps for the next two weeks. Photo: 123RF

Starting today, the government trial lets plug-in electic vehicles (EVs) use five motorway on-ramp lanes normally reserved for buses, trucks and high-occupancy vehicles.

Four of the five priority lanes are in the south, as well as the citybound onramp at Lincoln Road on the North-Western Motorway.

The others are the citybound onramps from Coronation Road and Rimu Road onto the South-Western Motorway, and the citybound onramps from the South-Eastern Highway, and from the Mount Wellington Highway, onto the Southern Motorway.

The trial is being championed by Minister of Transport Simon Bridges, himself a driver of an electric car, and being implemented by the New Zealand Transport Agency, but has attracted scepticism from Auckland mayor Phil Goff and council agency Auckland Transport.

Businesses own nearly a quarter of the 1033 electric vehicles registered in Auckland.

Electricity companies Mercury Energy, with 42, and Vector, with 12, will be leaving it up to individual staff to decide whether to use the priority lanes.

Air New Zealand, which said it had around 75 EVs, was not sure how many were based in Auckland.

Air New Zealand was the most bullish about the trial. “We are looking forward to participating in this trial and hope our customers are inspired to consider electric vehicles themselves,” the airline said in a statement.

Auckland Transport is known to be unhappy about the trial, and in a submission, posed questions about how clearly motorists would understand which vehicles qualified and called for an “information campaign”.

“We note that the period of the trial will not provide any definitive conclusion on the effectiveness on driver behaviour change,” the city agency wrote.

Former Auckland Regional Council transport chair Joel Cayford, now a policy analyst with the Planning Institute, said the focus should be on shifting people out of cars, not from fossil-fuelled to electric vehicles.

“The benefit is incredibly marginal. If you were really genuinely seeking a shift in New Zealand to a more sustainable transport economy, you wouldn’t start here,” he said.

Mr Goff did not favour adding to the number of vehicles in priority lanes.

“The minister’s very keen on it. He wants to trial it, fine. That’s a decision he’s made. Let’s see if it works and if it doesn’t he’ll be the first to put up his hand and say well, ‘that didn’t work’,” said Mr Goff.

NZTA will not be actively monitoring the uptake by electric vehicle users, and there will be no extra policing of vehicles using the on-ramps during the trial.

Group manager for planning and investment Robert Brodnax said the agency would survey owners of electric cars afterwards about their experiences.

“We’re also going to be monitoring commentary on Facebook and on social media, and also talking to the main stakeholder groups about their insights – the Bus and Coach Association, and freight operators,” said Mr Brodnax.

The by-law allowing the new category of vehicles to use the priority lanes for the trial will be extinguished the day after the trial ends on 20 March.

The government expects to have new regulations in place by 1 July, giving local bodies the discretion to allow electric vehicles in a range of priority or bus lanes.

Long delays for Auckland motorway commuters as ‘March madness’ hits

The New Zealand Transport Agency's traffic cameras showed North Shore-bound traffic was crawling on the Upper Harbour ...


The New Zealand Transport Agency’s traffic cameras showed North Shore-bound traffic was crawling on the Upper Harbour motorway.


Auckland’s motorways are crawling as “March madness” begins in earnest.

“March madness” happens each year when schools, universities and workers are all back on deck and traffic on the region’s motorways hits its peak for the year.

A crash on the North Shore and two truck breakdowns on the southern motorway were contributing to delays as workers and university and school students tried to make their way into the city.

The New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) tweeted about 7am on Wednesday that congestion had begun to build early.

View image on Twitter

A crash on Albany Highway had caused a massive traffic backlog on the Upper Harbour motorway, between northwest Auckland and the North Shore, the agency said.

On the busy southern motorway, a truck broke down in the northbound lanes just before the Greenlane offramp about 7am.

A second truck broke down 40 minutes later near the Princes St offramp, near Otahuhu.

Both trucks were clear of the lanes by 7.50am, but the agency was warning that drivers would face lengthy delays most of the way into the city.

Earlier, a person died after a van hit a tree in the rural south Auckland suburb of Pukekohe.

Paparata Rd was closed between Pinnacle Hill Rd and Totara Rd and people were being asked to avoid the area.

Auckland Transport had put on additional public transport services, including four double-decker buses, but was still warning people to allow extra time to get to work or university.

 – Stuff

Opinion: Coastal shipping ‘just makes sense’

Trucks park at Murchison, which has become a major thoroughfare following the closure of the Picton to Christchurch leg ...


Trucks park at Murchison, which has become a major thoroughfare following the closure of the Picton to Christchurch leg of State HIghway 1.

OPINION: ​New Zealand is a coastal country with challenging geography and it seems logical that we should use the “blue highway” far more than we have done in the recent past.

Increasing our reliance on coastal shipping to move our freight, taking more trucks off our roads, is an essential step forward in building national resilience in the event of another natural disaster.

Public support for considering alternatives to long-haul trucking is building in the wake of the Kaikoura earthquake, in part because we have now seen first-hand how essential it is to have a good plan in place for our transport infrastructure.

Pacifica's coastal ship Spirit of Canterbury offloads at Lyttelton late last year.


Pacifica’s coastal ship Spirit of Canterbury offloads at Lyttelton late last year.

The blue highway is always there, it’s free, there are no potholes and no chance of slips. Yes, the weather can be challenging, but then the weather can be equally problematic for our roads.

Sea transport was a vital route between Auckland and Tauranga to Lyttelton following the closure of State Highway 1 and the rail corridor, and it remains so to some extent for what would have been rail freight.

Data from a NZ Transport Agency State Highway Traffic Monitoring System telemetry unit on SH1 at Waipara shows an initial increase in heavy traffic in the period following the earthquake has now plateaued so much so that truck volumes are only slightly up compared to a year ago. This would indicate that most of the rail freight, rather than being put on trucks, must be going via coastal shipping.

A number of freight forwarders have re-categorised what goods are being sent as just-in-time, or urgent freight, in order to reduce the amount that travels by truck.

Perishable goods such as fruit and vegetables will always be time critical, but there are many items that were only being classified as such for cash-flow reasons, and this is where the industry needs to look at the bigger picture.

Ships can carry more freight in fewer trips for less money, and little time is lost: A ship travelling from Auckland to Lyttelton does so in a similar amount of time as freight travelling by rail and ferry.

However, there are some challenges to overcome with regards to the current commercial model of the ports industry. One is that there is no financial incentive for operators to build more resilience and redundancy into their facilities. Where one operator might spend money on increasing resilience and struggle to make a return off that investment, another might not do this work and make more profit.

That approach does not benefit our country, and this is something that needs to be addressed.

Another issue is that while there is plenty of capacity to ship goods from north to south, this is not so in reverse. This is due to international lines being able to carry freight when continuing their journey and predominantly travel north to south.

As the Marlborough Chamber of Commerce has pointed out, it would make us less vulnerable if we spread our goods and distribution centres more equally rather than, in Marlborough’s case, mainly sourcing our perishable supermarket goods from Christchurch.

Another important benefit is that ships produce fewer emissions, and this is in line our obligations to reduce our emission by 2030 under the Paris Agreement on climate change.

Relying on the sea, not just our roads, should be the way of the future.

It just makes a lot of sense.

Stuart Smith is the MP for Kaikoura

 – The Marlborough Express

People Are Now Making Pools Out of Shipping Containers

Fire-damaged railway line across South Island to reopen early

The fire-damaged railway line linking Christchurch and Greymouth is to reopen ahead of schedule on 20 March.

railway crossing

The Midland line was badly damaged when a fire swept through 300 hectares between Cass and Springfield over Waitangi weekend, damaging several bridges.

Twelve wooden piles needed to be replaced on one bridge.

Initial estimates were that the repairs would take at least six weeks, and KiwiRail had been expecting to re-open the line in early April.

KiwiRail spokesperson Todd Moyle said the line was used by the TranzAlpine tourist train, and also for shipping coal and dairy products from the West Coast.

The line would initially open for freight, with the TranzAlpine service expected to resume shortly after.


LINZ improving shipping safety


Land Information New Zealand (LINZ) has developed a world leading tool for improving shipping safety in New Zealand, says Minister for Land Information Mark Mitchell.

“The Hydrographic Risk Assessment uses the latest technology to identify risks and help update navigation information,” Mr Mitchell says.

The tool combines data from a variety of sources to produce heat maps of New Zealand waters where risks are highest, ensuring updates are given where they are needed most.
“It is important New Zealanders are kept safe at sea, and the Risk Assessment will help ensure skippers have access to the latest and most accurate navigation information.”

LINZ is focused on improving information for areas such as Queen Charlotte Sound, the Tory Channel, the Approaches to Auckland, and Tamaki Strait, which were identified to have higher levels of navigational risk than other shipping routes in New Zealand.

“The tool also helps LINZ provide navigation services for New Zealand’s four million square kilometre Exclusive Economic Zone, supporting our shipping, cruise, and tourism industries.

“As vessels get bigger and shipping routes get busier, it is important we continually map the sea floor and update charts and other information,” Mr Mitchell says.

LINZ is working with Maritime New Zealand, harbour masters, and others to assess results and plan other charting work.

Read the results of the New Zealand Hydrographic Risk Assessment on the LINZ website:


Content Sourced from

Calls to continue coastal shipping and keep heavy trucks off Kaikoura roads

Support for coastal shipping down the east coast of New Zealand is gaining momentum in Kaikoura, as the quake-isolated town basks in the relative calm of roads rarely troubled by heavy trucks.

Residents have started a petition asking the Government to consider permanent alternatives to long-haul trucking, pushing them off State Highway 1 when it eventually reopens.

The 7.8-magnitude earthquake last November caused major landslides north and south of Kaikoura, cutting rail services and forcing freight companies on a lengthy detour down the middle of the South Island.

Road and rail disruption from November's earthquake has prompted calls to explore coastal shipping.


Road and rail disruption from November’s earthquake has prompted calls to explore coastal shipping.

Kaikoura resident Lynda Kitchingham, who started the petition, said all through-freight should continue to be shipped, or transported by rail, when the highway opens again, essentially bypassing Kaikoura.

While trucks would continue to use the highway to make local deliveries, this was a golden opportunity to move large, long-haul freight off the road and onto sea and rail, she said.

This was more environmentally-friendly as ships and rail could carry more freight, making fewer trips, Kitchingham said.

The petition also called for a safe cycle and walking track from Marlborough to Canterbury, a concept that had been widely promoted since the earthquake.

It was also an opportunity to create a world-renowned Kaikoura coastal scenic highway, similar to Australia’s Great Ocean Road, Kitchingham said.

“Imagine the growth in prosperity for the whole region. Reinstate the rail for freight and a fantastic tourism [driving] experience with strategic stop-offs to complement the cycle and walkway.”

The road rebuild was being run by the North Canterbury Transport Infrastructure Recovery alliance, which included the NZ Transport Agency, KiwiRail and several infrastructure companies.

The alliance directed requests for comment onto KiwiRail, which had yet to respond.

The calls to look into coastal shipping for long-haul freight had garnered cross-party support in light of November’s earthquake.

Kaikoura MP Stuart Smith said coastal shipping had not been properly considered in the plans to reinstate the travel corridor following the earthquake, something he was concerned about in terms of resilience.

“We don’t have a good plan in place for our transport infrastructure,” Smith said.

“We will have an event [such as another earthquake] at some point when our road and rail networks are severed.

“Some of the stuff going up and down our roads could easily be going by sea.”

Smith said there was also the need to reduce carbon emissions in line with the Paris Agreement on climate change by 2020, and shipping was an efficient step towards that goal.

It also eliminated double-handling of freight where goods in containers were loaded on and off rail wagons before being put back onto trucks for transport to Christchurch, he said.

Green MP Steffan Browning said the Green Party had always supported coastal shipping for bulk freight for energy efficiency and to relieve pressure on the roads.

“It’s a no-brainer, but it’s a matter of how the Government can get behind it,” he said.

“We need those trucks off the road as much as possible, the Government needs to stop being beholden to the road transport industry.”

Browning said most of the long-haul freight trucks were not going door-to-door but base-to-base, and not stopping in Kaikoura to prop up small businesses.

Transport Minister Simon Bridges said coastal shipping had been a strong part of the transport response to the quake with extra services from Auckland and Tauranga to Lyttelton reducing road freight demand on SH7.

Commercial players would make decisions based on their current and future needs.

As well as NZ Connect, KiwiRail had also set up an inland freight hub in Blenheim for the movement of freight between islands, and developed additional coastal shipping plans which could be quickly put into operation if there was further disruption in the South Island, he said.

The increase in coastal freight was equivalent to 10 to 20 trucks per day off the road, Bridges said.

Kitchingham said this was a step in the right direction, but with Ministry of Transport figures showing about 550 heavy vehicle movements on SH1 between Picton and Waipara prior to the earthquake there was still a long way to go.

It was important to consider permanent alternatives, rather than just focus on using them following a disaster, she said.

The petition would run for a month and could be signed at various locations around Kaikoura, as well as online on the Truck Free Kaikoura Facebook page.

It will be presented to the Kaikoura District Council, the North Canterbury Transport Infrastructure Recovery alliance and local MPs for presentation to Parliament.

 – Kaikoura Star