Port of Tauranga nears breaking point

The Port of Tauranga is desperate to see a higher number of train movements on the Tauranga to Auckland Metroport service in order to clear a wall of import containers currently being held at the port.

Mark Cairns Chief Executive of the Port of Tauranga informed the market there are 5,355 import containers currently blocked stacked at the terminal that need to be moved through to Metroport facility in South Auckland for ultimate release to the Auckland business community.

Tauranga has been receiving an influx of boxes diverted by the shipping lines looking to skip the heavily congested Ports of Auckland. This has ultimately led to the Port of Tauranga becoming congested itself. The Tauranga Terminal is chock full at 101% of its capacity with 19,727 TEU in the container yard. This is compared to a normal 75% of capacity loading to ensure optimum productivity.

The port has had to resort to stacking four-high which in turn has made it impossible to pull selected containers on behalf importers due to access being prohibitive. It all depends on where your container is packed in the stack as well which stack.

The down stream effect of the clogging will be delays for the commercial sector in Auckland.

Mr Cairns has advised the port is desperate for KiwiRail to add more trains to clear the backlog northwards. Without increased train capacity the delivery profile for some containers will hit 20-days.

KiwiRail supplied 86 to 92 trains weekly on the Tauranga programme. For 2021 the contracted number of trains REDUCED to 62 trains a week but last week the port gained a 78-train schedule only to see 8 train movements shed over Easter weekend as KiwiRail carried out track maintenance. There are discussions with KiwiRail about an 86-90 train programme that may start later this month. KiwiRail advised that there would be more capacity by month-end however the logistics of sourcing the necessary equipment (which had been re-deployed elsewhere) – locomotives, wagons and operators could not be done at the “flick of the switch”

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