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.

EMMA DANGERFIELD/FAIRFAX NZ

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

Opinion: Chance for new transportation strategy lost – Winston Peters

Work is underway to repair State Highway 1.

JOHN VASTA – Work is underway to repair State Highway 1.

OPINION: When the Kaikoura earthquake obliterated the rail line between Picton and Christchurch and sections of  State Highway 1 along the same route were submerged in rocks and debris, the fragility of the country’s transport network were fully exposed.

It was an embarrassment for New Zealand. It showed that the main transport connection between the North and South Islands was deficient, overly dependent on road transportation and along a route totally unsuited for big rig trucks.

Every year on windy road sections along the Kaikoura coastline heavy trucks roll over injuring and even killing the drivers.

The earthquake presented the opportunity to have a rethink and come up with a better North Island-South Island transport ...

RICKY WILSON/FAIRFAX NZ – The earthquake presented the opportunity to have a rethink and come up with a better North Island-South Island transport strategy, writes NZ First leader Winston Peters.

 

On the notorious Hundalee Hills section south of Kaikoura, trucks create enormous problems for other traffic, causing delays and safety risks.

The earthquake presented the opportunity to have a rethink, to reassess the whole situation and come up with a better North Island-South Island transport strategy – incorporating road and rail and what has been run down over many years – coastal shipping.

New Zealand once had a vibrant coastal shipping service. In the 1980s a fleet of 40 or so New Zealand vessels carried freight around the country and across the Tasman. A roll-on-roll-off cargo service operated between Wellington and Lyttelton

All this faded away so that today we have only five interisland ferries and five other vessels carrying containers, oil and cement.

Following the earthquake, the government-appointed North Canterbury Transport Infrastructure Recovery (NCTR) looked at transportation possibilities for the future, one of which included beefing up shipping to carry freight.

If adopted this could have presented the chance to make the rebuilt road a heritage-scenic route.

However, NCTR gave shipping scant attention and plumped for one thing only – a rebuild of SH1 – making the road wider to handle bigger and even more trucks.

That means more truck roll overs; more problems in the Hundalees; the chances of having a revitalised coastal shipping service have disappeared and so too has the possibility of developing a coastal-heritage route to draw holidaymakers and tourists.

It is sad for the Marlborough and Kaikoura districts, as well as New Zealand, that the big truck lobby has won.

Foresight has gone out the window and a wonderful opportunity has been lost.

Winston Peters is the leader of NZ First and MP for Northland

 – The Marlborough Express

LARGER TRUCK MEASURES ON KAIKOURA ROUTE

A widened road as well as new parking bays and pull-over areas are among options being considered for the restoration of the Kaikoura State Highway 1 route in order to accommodate larger trucks in greater volume.

Members of the North Canterbury Transport Infrastructure Recovery (NCTIR) alliance, which has been formed to lead the restoration of the earthquake-affected coastal road and rail network, are understood to be in the throes of finalising plans for the project.

At a recent residents’ meeting in Kaikoura, NCTIR head Duncan Gibb reportedly said the aim was to have the coastal road route reinstated by the end of the year. Albeit, he acknowledged this would be a challenging task.

It is understood that some residents in attendance questioned if all alternative options had been fully considered, with it noted that future slips could still impact the reinstated road and that catering for increased trucking volumes would negatively impact the tourist experience.

In this vein, a viewpoint was reportedly expressed that future consideration could be given to using shipping services over road or rail for non-urgent and non-perishable goods, in order to lessen greenhouse gas emissions, noise and “perceived intimidation” of increased trucking.

dave November 23, 2016 No Comments

Centreport container terminal appears munted

A week after a 7.8 magnitude earthquake hit New Zealand, CentrePort has resumed most operations and is focussed on minimising disruption to its customers.

Chief Executive Derek Nind says significant progress has been made across the Port and the team has worked diligently to bring essential services online in a safe and planned way.

“We have moved from a situation six days ago when we had no water, no electricity, no phone lines and no email, to the current position where we have large areas of the Port up and running. Engineering inspections were needed everywhere to make the Port safe, and they are ongoing. We had to review all operations and processes in light of the earthquake.

“Safety is our number one priority, and the reality is the seismic engineering inspections take time.

“We understand the importance of the Port to the regional economy, and are committed to resuming operations as soon as practicable.

“It’s important to note all the work carried out in the last week has been done amid continued aftershocks, adverse weather and King tides. We’re also operating in an environment where we’ve been advised there is likelihood of another major earthquake.”

Immediately after the impact of the earthquake, emergency generators were activated to protect refrigerated containers. Within 24 hours, the ferry link between Wellington and Picton was re-established. Within 48 hours the first commercial vessel unloaded cargo at the Port. And within 72 hours a rail link was reopened to begin moving cargo out of the Port.

Five navy ships supporting earthquake efforts at Kaikoura (HMNZS Te Kaha, HMNZS Endeavour, USS Sampson, HMAS Darwin and HMCS Vancouver) called at Wellington Harbour today, while a cargo ship delivered 500 cars to the Port.

Tomorrow (Monday) will see the inaugural visit of the Pacific Aria cruise ship to the Capital. Logs and more commercial ships will begin arriving later in the week.

CentrePort has implemented alternative ways of working. Some staff have been unable to work because of the earthquake, others have been deployed to different roles and we’re looking at possible employment opportunities at other ports.

There is much work to be done, particularly in our container shipping operation, which remains suspended. Potential solutions may mean the Port has to work differently in the short, medium and long term.

Damage to the Port is more extensive than during the 2013 Seddon earthquakes. Many buildings remain off limits, with staff working in back-up locations across the Port and outside the CBD.

CentrePort has welcomed the Government’s technical investigation into the performance of several modern buildings, including Statistics House, which sustained damage to the first and second floors in the North West corner of the building.

Mr Nind says he is optimistic about the future of the Port.  “We’ve come a long way since Monday, thanks to our staff, suppliers and customers, who are pulling out all the stops to reopen the Port, and Wellington, for business. I’ve said it many times over the last few days, and I’ll say it again – I’m incredibly grateful for the hard work being done.

“We’re working on options for getting containers moving through the Port, and finding alternative space for our staff. It’s going to be some time before we return to ‘normal’, but we’re already enabling much-needed economic activity in Wellington.

Wellington is open for business and we are continuing to make great progress.”

dave November 18, 2016 No Comments

Post earthquake update

Rail

  • No Rail services are operating in the South Island north of Christchurch.  Rail services south and west of Christchurch are normal.

Sea

  • All shipping lines, both domestic (Pacifica) and international, are being incredibly supportive to provide all the container slot capacity we need.

  • We are working with other parties to introduce additional vessel capacity, including northbound Chc to Trg/Akl.

  • All shipping lines are also pitching in to supply containers far in excess of the numbers normally available for domestic freight.  This comes at a huge cost to an industry that has struggled somewhat in the post GFC environment, and we are most grateful for their support at this time.

  • We are working with other parties on a longer term solution to the container supply issue, and this will most likely involve round tripping most of any additional fleet.  This carries cost that will need to be recovered but that is a conversation for another day.

  • Unfortunately Centreport’s (Wlg) container terminal has sustained a lot of damage so do not expect any containers to move to/from Wellington by sea.  Talk to us about providing a rail alternative within the North Island for containers to/from Wellington.

Service – given the extreme pressure on my team trying to keep a large amount of this country’s freight task moving, I think it is important to have a realistic expectation of the service levels that are achievable.

  • As shipping capacity fills rapidly at present, your first choice of vessel may not be available, or we may have to roll cargo to the next available vessel without consultation.

  • Door to door pick up and delivery services are under pressure in Auckland, and we expect worse to come at the Christchurch end.  We will endeavour to deliver freight in a timely manner but please expect bottlenecks and delays.

  • We will not be able to process requests for cut off extensions.

  • We can not process any last minute requests.

  • Please give us as much notice of any service requirement – at least 48 hrs but preferably plan at least a week ahead.

dave November 16, 2016 No Comments

NZTA advisory – SI routes

The following is a notification from NZTA:

Following Monday’s earthquake and the closure of State Highway 1 because of slips and damage to the highway, many operators are asking about freight vehicle access through Lewis Pass (State Highway 7).

To help with these queries, the following vehicles can travel on SH7:
•       All permitted 50MAX vehicles
•       All vehicles that are HPMV-permitted for travel on State Highway 1
•       Area overweight-permitted vehicles carrying machinery

These vehicles must travel on SH7 to Springs Junction, on SH65 to Murchison and SH6 to Nelson or turn off at Kawatiri onto SH63 to Renwick, onto SH6 and into Rapaura Road (SH62) to join SH1 to Picton at Spring Creek. Freight vehicles are asked to not travel via SH6 through Woodbourne and into Blenheim to join SH1.

The NZ Transport Agency has put in place a number of speed restrictions and restricted access to single-lane across some bridges to enable the route to be opened up to full HPMV following the earthquake and closure of SH1. It is critical that everyone observes the various traffic management restrictions in place.

With higher volumes of traffic and route restrictions on SH7, we are asking everyone to take extra care, be patient and courteous when travelling along the route, and allow extra time for their journey. Average journey times between Christchurch and Picton are currently expected to take seven and a half hours.

We are currently working on the logistics of over-dimension vehicle use of SH7 and will ensure we keep you updated with any further changes.

If you have any specific queries regarding route access, please contact the Permitting team on 0800 699 000 or email applyhpmv@nzta.govt.nz.

dave November 16, 2016 No Comments

NZTA media release

NZ Transport Agency contractors resumed work early this morning to assess the safety of key South Island state highway routes, clear slips and safely re-open roads as soon as conditions allow.

Controlled access for local residents and emergency services was restored yesterday on SH1 south from Seddon to Ward, and north from Cheviot to Goose Bay.

Transport Agency Highways Manager Neil Walker says work today will remain squarely focussed on restoring access to communities which have been cut off by damage from Monday’s quake and establishing safe and reliable alternative routes.

 “We’re back on site this morning working urgently with Kaikoura District Council contractors to open the inland road (route 70) between Culverden and Kaikoura. Crews have been working from both ends since Monday to clear slips and assess the road and structures for damage, including aerial bridge inspections being conducted by helicopter. The route is now open to all vehicles from Culverden to Waiau, and crews are doing everything possible to have the route safely open through to Kaikoura by the weekend.

“The alternative inland state highway route from Picton to Christchurch, via Murchison and the Lewis Pass has been open since late Monday afternoon. This will likely be the main state highway route from Christchurch to Picton for several months, given the amount of work which will be required to clear the large slips which have closed SH1.”

With the closure of SH1, Mr Walker says the Lewis Pass route will be carrying higher volumes of traffic, and people are urged to allow extra time for their journeys. People should allow an additional 90 minutes to two hours for the journey between Christchurch and Picton on the Lewis Pass route – average journey times between Christchurch and Picton are currently expected to take seven and a half hours. Fuel, food and toilet stops are available along the route at Culverden, Springs Junction and Murchison.

State Highway 7A, giving access to Hanmer Springs from State Highway 7, re-opened at 7am today after being closed overnight due to the risk of further rockfalls.

With continuing aftershocks contributing to the on-going risk of further slips and rockfalls in several parts of the South Island, people are urged to drive with extra caution and comply with all temporary speed restrictions.

The Transport Agency thanks all road users for being patient as many people’s travel plans are disrupted and many people are again managing their homes, work and lives amidst the aftershocks.

People can call 0800 44 44 49 for updates and the Transport Agency’s website and social media accounts will be also updated as more information is available.

Canterbury / Marlborough highway status – 5pm, 15 November 2016 [PDF, 1.8 MB] (map detailing affected routes)

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