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Port of Tauranga and Tranz Rail form MetroBox

October 2, 2003

Port of Tauranga and Tranz Rail form MetroBox in joint venture

The Port of Tauranga Limited and Tranz Rail Limited have formed a 50/50 joint venture, MetroBox Auckland Limited, which will purchase and operate the container storage and repair business owned by Tranz Rail, formerly known as Auckland Box.

This joint venture expands the concept of a "freight village" on the South Auckland site, which gives customers the ability to select from a range of container handling services.

Chief Executive of the Port of Tauranga, Jon Mayson, said that under the new ownership the MetroBox operation would be moved to an adjacent site to allow the release of land for the expansion of METROPORT.

Tranz Rail's Group General Manager Rail Services Group, Noel Coom said MetroBox was an exciting new joint venture with the Port of Tauranga that would enable development of 8ha of new storage yard. This in turn will enable MetroBox to grow market share.

"At Southdown we are already partners with Port of Tauranga with the highly successful inland port operation, METROPORT and now we have an additional joint venture with MetroBox. We will be delighted if this venture achieves the same growth and success as METROPORT," Mr Coom said.

Mr Mayson said the 10-year extension of the METROPORT operating agreement with Tranz Rail announced in May had provided a secure platform for the Port to make further investment in METROPORT and the latest joint venture, MetroBox with Tranz Rail was an important step in that process.

MetroBox's operations would be complementary to those of METROPORT and the new partnership venture with Tranz Rail would allow for that company's land bank at Southdown to be utilised more effectively.

Mr Mayson said the additional land area available would enable the company to separate the truck and rail interfaces at the inland port. This would improve loading and turnaround times for both road and rail operators.

It would also allow management to reduce stacking heights for containers, making individual containers more accessible for loading. The changes would also see Tranz Rail introduce two new hoists as replacements that would refresh the fleet and play a further part in lifting operating efficiencies.

MetroBox would be spending $3 million to develop the southern side of the present METROPORT site and this commitment had been factored into the agreement reached between the Port and Tranz Rail. MetroBox would have a long-term lease from Tranz Rail over the area that it used for its operations.

"This investment represents a further step in the strategic process of diversifying our activities," said Mr Mayson.

"It highlights our partnership approach to business and builds on the concept of using rail links to provide an environmentally acceptable, seamless, and cost-efficient point to point service for our customers.

"These changes are all about developing METROPORT to its strategic potential as a gateway that gives our customers efficient access to the Auckland market.

"On a standalone basis METROPORT is already New Zealand's fifth biggest container terminal. These changes will enable us to take it to its next stage of development."

He said MetroBox would have its own management that would be charged with building the company's activities in the storage, handling, cleaning, washing and repairing of empty shipping containers. Tranz Rail's Manager, Container Services, Sean McElroy had been seconded to lead the new business.

ENDS

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