24 May, 2021
Extra KiwiRail services have helped clear a large backlog of containers filled with imports which were unloaded at the Port of Tauranga after ships were diverted there from Auckland at the peak of the international supply chain crisis.
“We’ve worked hard to put more freight trains on to this route, which is the busiest in the country, and to increase the volumes we are shifting,” KiwiRail Group Chief Executive Greg Miller says.
“The impact of the additional capacity has really made a difference. At the height of the congestion in early April, when ship arrivals were occurring out of planned sequence, there was a two to three week wait between a container being unloaded from a ship in Tauranga, and it being railed to Auckland. Now it is down to three days.”
KiwiRail is now running 86 trains a week between Tauranga and Auckland – 43 each way.
“That’s up from 72 trains a week in early April – or an additional 1500 standard (20 ft) containers each week.
“We managed to increase it to 78 trains a week later that month, and to help improve freight flows we also cancelled some planned stoppages for work on the line.”
The number of services increased again at the beginning of May.
Mr Miller says the extra trains had been made available by rescheduling KiwiRail’s train plan to prioritise the Tauranga services, including access to the Auckland network.
KiwiRail was also working with other ports facing congestion issues to provide more capacity.
“There are still pressures on supply chains both here and internationally and it will take some time before things return to normal. For example, empty containers are not always available where they are needed. We will continue to do all we can to increase capacity options to support importers and exporters throughout the country.
“There is still some way to go but, working with Port of Tauranga and our other customers, we are making good progress,” Mr Miller says.