Developers of the Ruakura inland port in Hamilton have taken a big step forward by signing a 30-year partnership with the Port of Tauranga.
Port of Tauranga and the Tainui Group Holdings subsidiary, Port Ruakura LP, announced the agreement on Thursday.
Cargo shipped by a rail between Auckland and Tauranga will be handled at Ruakura and will meet the future needs of the company, Port of Tauranga chief executive Mark Cairns said.
“The Ruakura development will provide a highly efficient rail hub in the Waikato by utilising our existing train services linking our MetroPort Auckland inland freight hub with Port of Tauranga.”
Port of Tauranga will have priority rail slots at the Ruakura facility with Port Ruakura LP providing the infrastructure including a rail siding, hardstand and cargo storage.
Waikato-based importers and exporters will have direct access to international shipping services at Tauranga.
The 480-hectare Ruakura estate has 192 hectares earmarked for logistics and industrial uses and the planned 30 hectare inland port.
Tainui Group Holdings chief executive Chris Joblin said the initial 30-year agreement is a key step toward unlocking the economic golden triangle of Auckland, Hamilton and Tauranga for importers and exporters.
“The agreement will see Port of Tauranga trains initially call at Ruakura four times daily and this is likely to grow,” Joblin said. “This service will underpin the significant supply chain savings we have been modelling with prospective customers and tenants of Ruakura.”
About half of all freight volumes in New Zealand occur in the golden triangle and container volumes are forecast to grow 60 per cent by 2042. Tauranga handles the biggest container ships to visit New Zealand.
KiwiRail operates up to 86 trains per week between MetroPort Auckland and Tauranga, hauling up to 9000 twenty-foot equivalent units and the route has unused capacity.
KiwiRail CEO Greg Miller says the upper North Island is a key growth region for KiwiRail and the country.
“This is another example of the supply chain collaborating with KiwiRail to design and deliver rail infrastructure to better connect New Zealand,” Miller said.
Development of the Ruakura Inland Port is scheduled after the completion of the Hamilton section of the Waikato Expressway in 2021.