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Westland Milk Products expansion requires second train

MEDIA RELEASE 19 September 2014

Increase in milk production drives additional rail services for Hokitika

Westland Milk Products has reached an agreement with KiwiRail for an additional daily rail service between Christchurch and Hokitika to meet the dairy company’s increasing freight needs.

Westland Chief Executive Rod Quin says the move will have substantial benefits for Westland, road users and the environment.

“During the last few years Westland’s rail freight requirements have increased substantially,” Quin says. “This has been driven by record increases in production by our shareholders, up nearly 22 percent in the 2013/14 season alone, along with an expanding product range and growing sales success in international markets. When our new nutritionals dryer comes into production in August next year, we can expect our demand for additional freight to increase further.”

The additional daily rail service will commence on 1 October and involve an extra large train from Westland’s site at Rolleston to Greymouth (and return), and two smaller trains making the link from Greymouth to Hokitika and return.

The additional train movements in and out of Rolleston will both be at approximately 11am. The first train of the day will arrive in Hokitika at about 6am, as it does now, and head back to Greymouth between 11am and 12noon. Another train from Greymouth will reach Hokitika between 2pm and 3pm and leave for Greymouth between 8pm and 9pm.

“Residents and businesses within hearing distance of the railway at Rolleston and Hokitika will notice very little difference,” Quin says. “Both companies worked hard to keep the new schedule to reasonable hours.”

The expansion of the rail service was excellent news for the Westland and Canterbury economies, Quin noted. “It reflects a drive toward improved incomes for our farmers through increased production and improved high value sales. The additional train will also save the company money through the efficiencies of rail freight compared with road transport.”

Rod Quin says the move also strengthens Westland’s supply chain. “The rail route is a more secure alpine crossing than the Arthur’s Pass highway, being less subject to closures from storm and avalanche. Plus it will take trucks off the highway. That’s freight that can go by rail under this agreement, reducing environmental impact and freeing up the road for other users.”

KiwiRail Chief Executive Peter Reidy says that the new service is great news for the West Coast.

“Rail has a strong role to play in delivering economic benefits for our regional and national economies because it allows companies to move large volumes of their products throughout New Zealand efficiently and cost-effectively.

“KiwiRail has worked closely with Westland to find a solution that meets the dairy co-operative’s growing transport requirements and KiwiRail’s current operating timetables and rolling stock capacity. The trains will operate in the mornings and early evenings as it is important to us that any impacts for local residents are minimal.”

Mr Reidy says that KiwiRail has made significant improvements to the Hokitika line during the past few years, including clearing vegetation, replacing ballast and upgrading the quality of bridges.

“By operating a first class network, we are making it easier for businesses to convert from road to rail, and we look forward to working with Westland for a long time to come.”

ENDS

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