The first delivery of Port Taranaki’s logs-on-rail service will arrive at the port on Tuesday (8 October), as the company expands its forestry catchment area and works to ease pressure on the region’s roads.
Port Taranaki, in conjunction with KiwiRail, has established the once-a-day delivery (Monday to Friday), which will see logs harvested in the Whanganui area railed to Port Taranaki for storage and export.
Under the arrangement, a consignment of six forestry wagons will be added to the existing daily freight service between Whanganui and New Plymouth. The log wagons will be loaded at Whanganui’s Eastown rail yard and transported to the New Plymouth rail yard at Smart Road as part of the general KiwiRail freight service.
The six wagons, which contain about 200 tonnes of logs, will then be decoupled and shunted through to Port Taranaki and on to Blyde Wharf, where they will be unloaded adjacent to the berth.
Once established and based on forecast demand, the service may be extended to a dedicated once-a-day delivery from Whanganui to Port Taranaki, which would include up to 18 wagons of logs.
Port Taranaki head of commercial Ross Dingle said it was exciting to have the service operating after 18 months of work.
“We’re very pleased to be able to have this service up and running and we thank KiwiRail for their assistance in helping make this happen,” Mr Dingle said.
“With Port Taranaki’s log trade continuing to grow, the service has multiple benefits for Port Taranaki, log exporters, marshalling companies, the Taranaki community, and the environment.”
In the past financial year, 878,000 JAS (Japanese Agricultural Standard) crossed the port’s wharves, which was an increase of 27% on the previous year.
“This type of record growth has been occurring year-on-year, so we have been working to widen our catchment area and further increase our log trade, while also looking at ways to ensure the increase doesn’t impact further on the region’s very busy roads,” Mr Dingle said.
“Each day, about 200 tonnes of logs – the equivalent of six logging trucks – will be delivered by train. With logs no longer exclusively on trucks, it will have a positive impact on congestion and the amount of road maintenance and upgrades required, as well as helping reduce carbon emissions.
“Increased log volumes create the prospect of increased ship visits, which is fantastic for the development of our business and helps drive regional economic growth,” Mr Dingle said.
To support the logs-on-rail service, Port Taranaki has also invested in providing greater berth-side space for log storage.
Late last year, the 24,000 tonne capacity former cold store on Blyde Wharf was removed and the area has since been repaved, allowing another 12,500 JAS of storage space.
“The log yards are right beside the rail line and the ship berthing, which means the logs can be easily and efficiently unloaded from the train, stored nearby, and quickly loaded onto the vessel when required,” Mr Dingle said. “This saves time and money for exporters.
“We have also installed stronger bollards on Blyde Wharf, enabling two log vessels to berth and load simultaneously, which has added flexibility and improved efficiency for exporters.”
With rail movements returning to Port Taranaki, Mr Dingle urged the public to take care at the vehicle and pedestrian rail crossings through New Plymouth.
“Please keep a look out at all rail crossings and keep safe,” he said.