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Thursday, 26 June 2014 15:48

Fonterra freight u-turn?

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HAVE LYTTELTON port's problems finally become too much for Fonterra?

Kotahi – the Fonterra and Silver Fern Farms' freight and logistics joint venture – committed container volume to Timaru which "is expected to quickly exceed the 80,000 TEU shipped across PrimePort's wharves when traffic last peaked in 2008".

Fonterra's 2010 decision to rail containers 170km from Clandeboye, South Canterbury to Lyttelton, instead of 30km to Timaru, saw Timaru PrimePort's volumes plummet with the loss of jobs and subsequent sale of the container business to Port of Tauranga.

Announcing a 10-year alliance with Kotahi this week Port of Tauranga chief executive Mark Cairns said Timaru is set to become an important South Island freight gateway thanks to the Kotahi deal and investments in a new freight hub at Rolleston, southwest of Christchurch.

"Kotahi's cargo commitment, which includes container traffic from customers around Timaru, gives Port of Tauranga the certainty to proceed with infrastructure to accommodate 6500 TEU ships (at Timaru). Timaru, as a key destination for a revitalised coastal shipping industry, will play a growing role in marshalling South Island export traffic north for these ships."

There are rail connections between Timaru, Rolleston, and Fonterra's expanding Darfield site. Services from Lyttelton were disrupted by the Canterbury earthquakes and more recently concerns about double-handling of freight due to limited container capacity on the port side of the Lyttelton tunnel.


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