Rail boost avoids more log trucks on Wanganui-Taranaki roads

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

KiwiRail’s addition of log wagons on freight trains to Port Taranaki will avoid the need for 2700 truck trips on the regions roads, KiwiRail Group chief executive Greg Miller says.

From 7 October six log wagons will be added to the daily freight service between Wanganui and New Plymouth, enabling up to 45,000 tonnes of logs a year to be transported to Port Taranaki for storage and export.

“The addition of these log wagons highlights the real benefits rail can have for New Zealand’s regions,” Miller says.

“Six wagon loads a day will avoid the need for about 2700 truck trips each year. This not only helps reduce congestion on Wanganui and Taranaki’s regional roads and highways, it also reduces road maintenance costs and transport emissions – given rail has 66 percent fewer emissions per tonne of freight carried than trucks.”

Miller says rail improves the resilience of the forestry supply chain – giving more options for logging companies to get their harvests to port.

“The additional wagons to Port Taranaki are a solid start and, if there is demand, KiwiRail could run a dedicated log train to the port in the future.”

According to statistics published by the Ministry for Primary Industries, forestry harvests across New Zealand have been growing dramatically since 2008. They are currently at around 36 million tonnes per year, and are forecast to remain at high levels for the next decade. In the Western part of the Southern North Island, which includes Wanganui, harvests are forecast to increase from 1.5 million tonnes in 2019 to 2.3 million tonnes by 2024 and remain at that level until the mid-2030s.

“The fact is, with significant harvests forecast for the years ahead, rail is a must-have,” Miller says.

“The trucking sector alone cannot cope with the volumes of logs, so road and rail have to work together.

“Delivering logs by truck from the forests to Wanganui, to be railed to Port Taranaki, and then be shipped overseas shows how the different transport modes can work together to support regional growth.”

KiwiRail is working on number of other forestry projects across the North Island, with support from the Government’s Provincial Growth Fund. These include reopening the Napier to Wairoa line to transport logs to Napier Port and investigating a potential new log hub in Dannevirke.

KiwiRail has also extended logging capacity between Masterton and Wellington’s CentrePort.