Inland port at Rolleston means more freight for Timaru

Timaru District mayor Damon Odey, left, and PrimePort chief executive Phil Melhopt attend the opening of Port of ...
Audrey Malone

Timaru District mayor Damon Odey, left, and PrimePort chief executive Phil Melhopt attend the opening of Port of Tauranga's MetroPort at Rolleston on Friday.

A new inland port in Rolleston means more rail-freighted containers coming to Timaru's port, its chief executive says.

PrimePort chief executive Phil Melhopt said on Friday the opening of Port of Tauranga's Metroport Christchurch meant "increasing container volumes into port via rail and improved import-export ratios and more employment".

Timaru District mayor Damon Odey, who attended the opening, believed the freight site provided another strategic link for Timaru's growth.

Transport minister  Simon Bridges, left, and Port of Tauranga chief executive Mark Cairns open the Metroport facility at ...
Iain McGregor

Transport minister Simon Bridges, left, and Port of Tauranga chief executive Mark Cairns open the Metroport facility at Rolleston on Friday.

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Opening the inland port, Transport Minister Simon Bridges said it would provide cargo owners an efficient hub to move goods around Canterbury and to and from PrimePort Timaru.

A Ministry of Transport study suggested a trend toward larger ships visiting fewer ports than before, Bridges said.

Bridges and Cairns tour the facility.
Iain McGregor

Bridges and Cairns tour the facility.

Port of Tauranga chief executive Mark Cairns believed the inland port provided good, healthy competition for Lyttleton Port of Christchurch's own planned inland freight hub at Rolleston.

It would allow cargo customers to pay "a very attractive shipping rate" by getting their cargo on bigger ships at Tauranga's port.

"At the moment, the only two ports in New Zealand that have consents or are currently dredging are Port of Tauranga and Port Otago."

Cairns said although more cargo was not guaranteed, the company expected MetroPort would attract more. Timaru had a good, sustainable little port, he said.

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"In 2013, we had the acquisition of PrimePort Timaru, that business is now doing four times the container volume it did back in 2013.

"This is the next step of getting more cargo through Timaru, but ultimately more cargo in one place for these bigger ships."

Cairns said trucks and trains could drop off containers of cargo at the inland port, where the company could plan their trajectory and have them shipped to Timaru by rail.

Cairns said the company would "always choose rail where we can". Grouping cargo in one place helped to make sending containers to the port by rail viable.

The inland port would begin operations "as soon as we can get some cargo," Cairns said.

 - Stuff

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