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TIN news:         Rival ports Lyttelton and Tauranga-Timaru are pouring resources into Rolleston industrial hubs as they go head to head to win export volumes.
 
The ports are each spending tens of millions on container handling facilities located within just a kilometre or so of each other.
 
They are also changing roading patterns in the surrounding district, aiming to reducing truck movements in central Christchurch but adding some in and around the Rolleston township.
 
The number of trucks running through Brougham Street and central Christchurch should eventually reduce as more containers, containing agricultural and manufactured products, are put on trains at the Rolleston hubs.
 
The growth of Rolleston as a business centre has Selwyn District Council considering traffic options including a flyover across State Highway 1, joining the residential and industrial halves of the town.
 
Joining the two ports in the industrial sector is the Carter Group which bought 122 hectares of lifestyle and farmland in 2013 to develop an industrial park. The land has subsequently been rezoned. The Christchurch-based Carters have aligned with Lyttelton Port of Christchurch, which took 27ha of the total.
 
Handling efficiencies and ship calls will help exporters and truck firms decide between the two hubs.. So far truckies have been diplomatic as to which port they might choose. One trucking boss said it was the exporters not the truck firms that chose which ports to export through.
 
Port of Tauranga chief executive Mark Cairns said the North Island company was making good progress to win back container business for PrimePort Timaru. POT spent $21.6 million on a 50 per cent stake in PrimePort Timaru in 2013.
 
“I just think we’re very pleased with the investment and it will dovetail well with the bigger ships calling in to Tauranga next year.”
 
It also started a new company, Timaru Container Terminal Ltd (TCT South), in which freight-based Kotahi has taken a 49.9 per cent stake. Kotahi is a joint venture between export dairy giant Fonterra and meat processor Silver Fern Farms.
 
As part of that strategy it was spending in the order of $20m on stage one of a Rolleston Izone development including the land purchase, and paving plus some associated services including a rail line.
 
“What we’re really trying to do (with the Kotahi deal) is make sure the trains are full both ways, that the empty containers are used appropriately …
 
“We will be working with customers to make sure we have an import (order) box coming into the site, and then an export box to match it going out to Timaru.”
 
PoT planned to have the Izone site open late in July.
 
“We’re pleased with the progress, we’ve got the rail spur (built) into the site. That’s complete,” Cairns said.
 
In late 2013, Cairns said his focus on the shareholding was restoring cargo to the Timaru port. Primeport had previously handled 80,000 containers on an annual basis, but that had fallen to around 20,000.
 
This week he said that PoT expected container volumes to be back in the vicinity of 80,000 TEU’s on an annual basis.
 
LPC chief executive Peter Davie said the port’s inland port near the Carter Group land would launch in the fourth quarter but only as a road-based service.
 
It would be fully operational with the additional rail service early in 2016 to help cater to the increasing regional agricultural productivity with direct rail connection to points west and south of Rolleston.
 
“It is strategically located adjacent to the main south rail line that connects to the Lyttelton Container Terminal, giving a direct link to the 14 shipping lines and nine shipping services that call at the port,” Davie said.
 
LPC chairman Trevor Burt said there would be major benefits for businesses and the entire region from the development.
 
“It is part of our long term vision to meet future freight demands and gear up for growth.”
 
Selwyn District deputy mayor Sarah Walters said the potential impact of extra road and rail traffic into the township and surrounding area has already been the subject of many studies.
 
Selwyn District has been part of of a Rolleston Roading Strategy Group, backed by council chief executive David Ward. Others in the “informal” group include Lyttelton Port of Christchurch (LPC), Port of Tauranga, NZ Transport Agency, Carter Group, iZone and KiwiRail.
 
Walters said a flyover from the residential side of the township, across State Highway One and on to the land for commercial development northeast of Rolleston had been costed at around $41 million. It was in the council’s long term plan and earmarked for 2021/22. The iZone park was already the base for more than 700 workers.
 
NZ Trucking Association chief executive David Boyce said both PoT and Lyttelton’s sites “will certainly be used”.
 
The work that Selwyn council was doing to ensure the roading was up to scratch included monitoring traffic flows around the Jones and Hoskyns Rds which are close to the council-owned Izone site.
 
“They’ve worked out there was going to be about 650 movements a day, accessing the area (and) the inland ports,” Boyce said.
 
SDC’s Walters said a potential flyover would help Rolleston residents cross a busy State Highway 1 when the Christchurch southern motorway was extended further towards Rolleston in 2019.
 
The flyover would run from the corner of Rolleston Drive and Kidman St, across the highway to Jones and Hoskyns roads in the industrial area.
 
“It’s recognised that we do need to connect both halves of the district,” Walters said.
 
Funding for a flyover would be shared amongst different groups including the council and NZTA.

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