More logs on trains in Wairarapa

Moving another 100,000 tonnes of logs by rail from the Wairarapa to CentrePort benefits the region and means 6,000 fewer truck trips annually, Forestry and Associate Transport Minister Shane Jones says.

Minister Jones, along with representatives from KiwiRail, CentrePort, the forestry sector, and councils attended an event in Masterton today to mark the start of larger log trains from the Waingawa rail hub which will be able to carry 40 per cent more logs to Wellington’s port. 

“The industry has been clear there is a lot of potential to grow harvest export volumes from the Wairarapa, but not without beefing up the supply chain. KiwiRail has stepped up, adding wagons to their trains to carry around 100,000 tonnes more logs to CentrePort each year,” Shane Jones said.

“Not only are these log trains supporting the forestry industry to get its goods to market, the increased rail capacity reduces carbon emissions and will see 6,000 fewer logging truck trips annually across the Remutakas and into central Wellington.

“Log harvests in the south eastern section of the North Island are predicted to increase to 1.65 million tonnes in the next five years and stay that way into the 2030s. Trucks alone won’t be able to manage the future harvest volumes.

“I see a real opportunity to get even more export logs onto rail. We need to take a more inter-modal approach to transport and make greater use of rail and hubs like Waingawa, and KiwiRail are already beginning discussions with CentrePort and the forestry sector on possible further increases.

“That’s why the Government, through the Provincial Growth Fund, has invested $6.2 million in reopening the Napier-Wairoa line and establishing a log hub at Wairoa. There’s also $4 million funding earmarked for a log hub in Dannevirke, and $40 million for a road-rail freight hub near Palmerston North.”

Greater use of rail makes the supply chain more resilient, which is crucial for New Zealand as an export led-economy. Earlier this year road works on the Rimutaka Hill Road stopped trucks getting logs to port, creating big problems for the forestry and trucking industries.

"This mode neutral approach helps realise the Government’s ambitions to grow our forestry sector, reduce emissions, and get rail back on track,” Shane Jones said.

Note to Editors:

  • Last year KiwiRail transported approximately 270,000 tonnes of logs from the Waingawa hub. They are increasing the number wagons from 30 to 45 across the two daily services to Wellington, enabling approximately 370,000 tonnes to be transported to port annually.
  • Transporting 370,000 tonnes by rail is estimated to avoid more than 22,000 truck trips over the Rimutaka Hill and down State Highway 2 into Wellington each year.
  • The Waingawa hub was first opened in 2012, then extended and operated by CentrePort from 2016.