The addition of six new log wagons to a daily freight service in New Zealand will enable up to 45,000 tonnes of logs to be transported to ports for export each year.
KiwiRail Group stated that this will reduce the need for 2,700 truck trips on New Zealand’s regional roads in the Southern North Island.
KiwiRail Group Chief Executive Greg Miller said this will help reduce congestion on Whanganui and Taranaki’s regional roads and highways and it will reduce road maintenance costs and transport emissions – given rail has 66 per cent fewer emissions per tonne of freight carried than trucks.
It also supports New Zealand’s growing forestry harvests by shifting some of the load away from the trucking sector and on to the railways.
Trucks will transport the logs from forests to the trains, from where they will be railed to the port and then shipped overseas.
“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,” said Miller.
Forestry harvests across New Zealand have been on the rise since 2008, according to the New Zealand Ministry for Primary Industries. Currently, 36 million tonnes are harvested per year and forecasts predict the numbers will remain at these high levels for the next decade.
“The fact is, with significant harvests forecast for the years ahead, rail is a must have,” said Miller.
In the Western part of the Southern North Island, where the new daily service has been added, harvests will increase from 1.5 million tonnes in 2019 to 2.3 million tonnes by 2024 and remain at that level until the mid-2030s.
With support from the government’s Provincial Growth Fund, KiwiRail is involved in a number of other forestry projects, including investigating a potential new log hub.