KiwiRail has asked the Otago Regional Transport Committee to
be involved in a feasibility study for freighting logs by
rail rather than road.
The development of rail services for forestry freight would
reduce heavy vehicle traffic and road-maintenance costs, the
state-owned enterprise said.
Neil Carraher, KiwiRail's Dunedin-based freight
representative, spoke in support of the company's submission
to the committee at a hearing on the draft regional land
transport programme 2012-15 which was held in Dunedin
It was KiwiRail's commercial prerogative to explore further
opportunities for rail freight, but an integrated approach to
land transport in Otago comprising rail and road would
benefit the region, Mr Carraher said.
He cited annual volumes of heavy vehicle traffic along main
regional routes and said the demand for freight was
KiwiRail estimated there were annually 450,000 tonnes of logs
in the area south of Dunedin available for processing in the
medium term, half of which would end up as finished product
and the remainder as dust and chips.
The volume of logs equated to 15,000 truck movements in, and
7500 out, of the processing site. For up to $1.5 million,
connecting the site to the main south rail line would reduce
truck movements by 7500 each year, KiwiRail submitted.
It estimated 400,000 tonnes of logs (about 13,000 log truck
movements) were sent to Port Otago each year and better
opportunities to transfer logs to and from rail could reduce
truck traffic on State Highway 88 by up to 6500 movements
Accordingly, there would be less road damage by heavy
vehicles, KiwiRail said.
Last year, KiwiRail increased its Otago operations, carrying
320,000 tonnes, up from 150,000 tonnes in 2010.
The surge was attributed to growth at Fonterra's plants in
Edendale in Southland and North Taieri.
Mr Carraher said the Edendale, Mosgiel and Port Otago rail
freight operation was a successful example of what could be
achieved in the local forestry sector.
"We believe there's significant opportunity to use rail and
ask that time and funds be allocated to investigate this," he
If the transport committee did a cost-benefit analysis, it
would find there were huge financial and social advantages to
using freight rail, Mr Carraher said.
"It would be worthwhile having a third party look at what we
are doing and what we are trying to achieve," he said.
Options included the development of hubs where freight was
delivered short distances by trucks from processing sites,
then transported long-haul by rail.
KiwiRail was one of 91 submitters on the draft plan, to be
finalised and put to the Otago Regional Council for