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16,000 logging trucks off our roads

By Emily Norman
[email protected]
Forestry leaders have transferred the brunt of Wairarapa log transport to rail, taking an estimated 16,000 logging trucks off the Rimutaka Hill road each year.
Centreport’s newly developed logging hub in Waingawa, the catalyst for the change, was officially opened by Transport Minister Simon Bridges yesterday morning, though it has been fully operational since last year.
He said the increased utilisation of rail was a “winning strategy”, and a “far-sighted move that I know we’ll be talking about in decades and decades to come”.
“I know the locals here and right through the Wairarapa are going to be incredibly appreciative of the 16,000 fewer truck trips on the roads into Wellington that they’re going to see as a result of this,” he said.
The Waingawa Log Hub is the result of a partnership between Centreport, Forest Enterprises Limited, and Farman Turkington Forestry, with the support of KiwiRail.
The 2.8ha hub takes more than 800 tonnes of logs to Centreport in Wellington each day, giving Wairarapa logging companies a new opportunity to get their logs to export markets quickly and safely.
Stan Sayer, the Masterton hub manager of McCarthy Transport, said the reduction of trucks carting wood over the Rimutakas would not have an impact on trucking companies’ business “at all”.
“In fact, we’re glad [rail is] there,” he said.
“We still cart it from the forests to the hub so it’s just cutting that footprint down on the Rimutakas which is good for everyone.”
Centreport chief executive Derek Nind said the hub’s interactions were “scalable”, meaning it was well-placed to meet Wairarapa’s log volume which is expected to increase by 50 per cent over the next 10 years.
Carterton Mayor John Booth said the hub represented “a significant opportunity to increase our region’s export earnings”.
“It is a transport solution that lessens the pressure on our roads and unlocks growth potential in forestry.”
Mr Booth said New Zealand was facing a “wall of wood” and that the potential wood availability in the southern north island “could exceed 4 million cubic metres each year through to 2025, peaking at almost 7 million, double the current harvest levels”.
“This means our export markets will increasingly be the focus of the forestry sector,” he said.
“Investment in infrastructure like the Waingawa Log Hub will see the Wairarapa ready to take on increased export opportunities.”
Managing director of Forest Enterprises Steve Wilton said his company alone had put 468,000 tonnes of logs down the rail to the port in Wellington since 2012.
He said without this infrastructure in place, forestry companies would “struggle” to be able to get logging volumes to Wellington over the next 15 years.

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