The Canterbury Mayoral Forum and Regional Transport Committee (RTC) completed the last leg of their freight tour on Monday with a visit to KiwiRail and a tour by train along a section of Canterbury’s rail freight network.
The Forum and RTC were able to view the development at KiwiRail’s Waltham hub, which will bring together all planned maintenance of South Island locomotives, wagons and carriages in a single, purpose-built facility, and will ultimately replace the Middleton, Addington and Waltham yards.
After hearing about KiwiRail’s investment in the hub, and how this fits in with KiwiRail’s strategy for rail freight more broadly, the tour travelled the freight route to the new private siding at the Synlait factory near Dunsandel. There, members heard from Synlait executives about how the new siding has contributed to simplifying its supply chain network, and to a significant reduction in the company’s environmental footprint, with the siding now removing approximately 16,000 truck movements annually from Canterbury’s road network.
After meeting with Synlait executives, the group travelled back along the rail freight route to Christchurch. During the tour, members were able to discuss a range of topical matters with KiwiRail officials, including passenger rail opportunities, career pathways into rail, and improvements to safety both within KiwiRail’s operations and in relation to road transport. Members were also able to see the volume of level crossings on that part of the freight route.
Beginning their freight tour in February of 2021, the Forum and RTC have now visited Lyttelton Port, Christchurch International Airport, the inland port in Rolleston, PrimePort Timaru, and had a first-hand look at the rail freight network. The purpose of undertaking a joint freight tour together was to better understand the freight task in Canterbury to help both groups achieve their freight-related objectives in the Mayoral Forum’s Plan for Canterbury and the Regional Land Transport Plan.