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Rail shuttle service for inland port

Thursday 21 October 2004

Ports of Auckland and Toll Rail announce rail shuttle service for inland port

Ports of Auckland’s new Wiri inland port will be serviced with a Toll Rail shuttle train.

Ports of Auckland Chief Executive Geoff Vazey announced at the Company’s annual meeting today that the shuttle train would increase the capacity of container movements to and from the seaport, provide very early delivery from ships to importers in Auckland, and lessen the future demand on roads.

“Rail is how much of the future increases in volume will be handled. Ports of Auckland has a state-of-the-art rail exchange that has capacity to handle much more rail traffic,” Mr Vazey said.

“Toll Rail is working with us to bring about increased movement of containers in and out of the port by rail.”

The Chief Executive of Toll New Zealand, David Jackson, said: “This is typical of the development we envisaged for our rail business and we look forward to getting under way with not only the Wiri project but other opportunities with Ports of Auckland as they arise.”

Mr Vazey said that as evidence of the commitment to these developments, Toll Rail and Ports of Auckland had today signed a letter of intent for the Wiri shuttle service.

“We are extremely pleased with this development. It is one of a number of projects that we have under way to ensure the port has good rail options available to customers,” Mr Vazey said.

Development of the Wiri inland port is well under way and it will be operating by the middle of 2005.

Investment Property

Non-operational property increased in value by 12%, or $11 million, on revaluation at 30 June 2004. The portfolio consists of land primarily on the Waitemata waterfront, and specifically the Western Reclamation.

“As previously advised, the Company has no present intention to sell any further waterfront property,” Chairman Neville Darrow said.

“We are advancing our long-term plans for the Western Reclamation. These commercial assets form part of Ports of Auckland’s strategic portfolio and have the potential to provide increased returns and income diversity over the medium term.

“Our objective is to facilitate the transition of this part of the waterfront into one of the most dynamic parts of Auckland. The Company is involved in the joint development of a high-level vision for the overall waterfront with the Auckland Regional Council and Auckland City. The scope of the vision extends from the Harbour Bridge to Mechanics Bay,” Mr Darrow said.

Capacity into the future

Mr Vazey said that the Company was always ahead of demand for container-handling capacity and careful planning had ensured that capital investment was timed according to need.

Container terminal capacity would be increased by 100,000 TEUs when Stage One of the Axis Fergusson extension was completed in mid-2006.

“We can cater for continuing container volume growth many decades into the future. Without expanding beyond our present east-west boundaries, we can increase container-handling capacity at the seaport to handle over 3 million TEUs a year – four and a half times our present throughput. Steps to achieve this include completion of the second stage of the Axis Fergusson reclamation, further stages of reclamation between the two terminals, improvement of land-use and container-stacking systems, and expansion of our inland port network,” Mr Vazey said.

Deepening of the commercial shipping lane in the Rangitoto Channel began during the year to widen the tidal window for large containerships. The main dredging would begin later this month and was expected to be completed in 2006. The cost of the channel deepening and Axis Fergusson Stage One extension project was $55 million, he said.

Outlook

Mr Darrow said that the 2004 full year results confirmed that Ports of Auckland remained on track for steady ongoing growth, underpinned by strong fundamentals.

“After the first three months of the new financial year, the Company is trading to expectation. Earnings before interest and tax, taking into account that the marina business has been sold, are at a level similar to last year notwithstanding the recent four-day strike and the loss of a shipping service. Net profit after tax including unusual items is slightly up.

“We are trading soundly,” Mr Darrow said.

“The Company has a clear strategy for the creation of shareholder value. The Board and management are united and committed to achieving against this strategy. Ports of Auckland will continue to have the necessary capacity, equipment, technology and attitude to meet the challenges of the future, and to fulfil customers’ expectations.”

Mr Vazey said that while there had been a 2% drop in container volumes in the first quarter compared with last year, the four-day strike and one-off disruption to other trades due to events in other parts of the world had more than accounted for the reduction.

Non-containerised cargoes were up 22% for the first quarter, with volumes of imported vehicles performing strongly.

“Looking ahead, we are in good shape. Our strategy is clear and we are continuing to achieve against it. We have some important projects under development,” Mr Vazey said.


End

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