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Maersk Decision Creates Inland Port

3 July, 2002

Tranz Rail will introduce a second inland port to its national operations following the Maersk Shipping Line decision to use the Port of Timaru as one of only two South Island port calls.

Tranz Rail General Manager Commercial/Sales Craig Stapleton says the expected freight increase of more than 40% on the return Timaru to Middleton (Christchurch) corridor, effectively creates a second inland port operation, similar to the Auckland MetroPort concept.

"The operation in Christchurch at our Middleton site will be on a smaller scale and utilises existing services, but is based on the successful MetroPort concept that aggregates freight in South Auckland before railing it to port for shipping," says Mr Stapleton.

"Our proven ability to successfully run this style operation meant we worked closely with Maersk in assuring them we could provide the type of service they required. The recent introduction of our Intermodal Transport Programme (ITP) was another factor in our favour. ITP guarantees space on fixed-consist trains, running point-to-point to a fixed timetable and is bringing the consistency to our services that customers require.

"Containers for export will be railed south to meet a Wednesday port call at Timaru with imported containers brought back to Christchurch on Thursday.

"This boost to our business from Christchurch south also means much improved use of the locomotive and rolling stock assets we currently operate on this link.

"In recent years we have invested in the Middleton terminal to make it our most modern facility and we are seeing returns for this investment with Middleton becoming an integral hub for South Island import and export traffic."

Mr Stapleton said existing rolling stock and timetabled services would absorb the additional traffic between Christchurch and Timaru, with most of those services running at near full capacity.

"Looking forward we see this style of operation - with freight aggregated away from busy port areas and then railed on time to meet specific port calls - as a way of reducing congestion both at ports and on local and national roads while still meeting the needs of exporters, importers and the shipping lines."


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