Rangitīkei

Freight hub funded in Rangitīkei district

A new rail hub for the shipment and processing of logs will be built in the Rangitīkei district, near the town of Marton.

The facility will be supported with NZ$9.1 million ($8.3m) from the government’s $3 billion COVID-19 response and recovery fund.

Infrastructure Minister Shane Jones said that the hub would get more freight onto rail.

“This rail hub will not only attract more commercial developments to the immediate area, it will also take freight trucks off the roads.”

The local council expects the hub, which will include a debarker facility, will create roughly 83 jobs during construction and 22 full time jobs once operational.

Improved efficiencies created by the Marton facility, located in an existing freight centre, will combine logistics efficiencies.

“Marton is central to significant forests in Rangitīkei, Manawatū and Horowhenua regions that are mature and will continue to produce mature trees and increased volumes for the next 15 years. It is also a key service town for agriculture in the area, making it a good location for a freight hub,” said Jones.

“Parts of this region are deprived, with few options for economic development. This construction project will benefit the building and associated industries, boosting the local economy and keeping people in jobs. It also provides potential for the region to diversify and boost the local economy.”

Funding assures new rail maintenance facility in Christchurch

Christchurch’s damaged rail maintenance facilities will be replaced with a newly built $39 million ($36m) site.

The funding comes from the New Zealand government’s $3 billion post-coronavirus (COVID-19) recovery fund, which allocated $708m for transport projects.

Infrastructure Minister Shane Jones said that the Christchurch facilities were in need of a major overhaul.

“KiwiRail’s maintenance facilities in Christchurch are tired, earthquake-damaged and spread across the city. This $39m investment will mean KiwiRail can complete the build of a new, modern, fit-for-purpose facility at Waltham which will be used to maintain the South Island’s locomotives and wagons,” said Jones.

Construction is already underway at the site and is expected to continue into 2023.

KiwiRail groups chief executive Greg Miller welcomed the government’s announcement.

“This funding announced by the government today enables us to proceed with confidence to complete the new South Island maintenance depot for locomotives and wagons,” he said.

“The project goes to the core resilience of the network and the continued strength of our South Island operations.”

Miller said that the future facilities would improve KiwiRail’s operations.

“This funding enables us to construct brand new facilities that are consolidated in one place, with all the advantages that brings in areas like energy efficiency and improved working conditions for staff,” he said.

“It ensures we have the capability we need to maintain a modern locomotive fleet and builds on the investment that is already underway in facilities to work on our scenic carriages.”

The upgraded facilities at Waltham will support KiwiRail’s Network Transformation Project which includes investments in large numbers of rollingstock such as locomotives and flat wagons.

300 people are expected to be employed during construction with priority given to local civil contractors and material suppliers in addition to KiwiRail’s own staff.

“Not only will the work at Waltham support hundreds of construction jobs, once finished the new facility will help us attract and retain the staff that we need for rail to play the part it should in New Zealand’s transport network,” said Miller.

West Coast

West Coast to Christchurch line to be upgraded

New Zealand will spend $13 million to upgrade the rail line between Christchurch and the West Coast.

The funding will go towards improving the resilience of the rail line, which was closed for over a month after a 100-metre slip at Omoto in October 2019. KiwiRail will conduct the upgrades, which will involve the installation of drainage and strengthening the hill side at Omoto.

NZ Infrastructure Minister Shane Jones said the project was critical to ensure resilient and reliable connections to the West Coast.

“The rail line to Greymouth brings more than 80,000 tourists into the region each year and gets the equivalent of 50,000 truckloads of exports to port. It’s a vital part of the regional economy.”

Regional Economic Development Under-Secretary Fletcher Tabuteau said that the program would benefit the local economy during construction and once complete.

“The work at Omoto will also support about 20 local jobs. It’s important that the West Coast sees maximum benefit from government investment. Not only does the Omoto work give certainty for the future, KiwiRail is focussed on using West Coast civil contracting firms and suppliers to carry out the work wherever possible.”

KiwiRail group chief executive Greg Miller said he was delighted that funding had been secured.

“Everything we can do to make rail freight more reliable helps New Zealand lower its emissions, helps make KiwiRail more sustainable, and reduces truck numbers on the country’s roads,’ he said.

“Every tonne of heavy freight delivered by rail results in 66 per cent fewer emissions than the equivalent freight being carried by road, so KiwiRail is working hard to encourage companies to make that shift.”

Horizontal drains between internal layers of hillside will remove water, and in-ground piles/retaining structure will tie the top sliding layer and the bottom layer of the hillside together.

Work is expected to be finished in 2021.