With freight volumes through Canterbury forecast to double in the next 30 years, planning is already well underway to improve capacity and efficiency on the existing transport infrastructure network to support freight demand.
The Greater Christchurch Transport Statement partners – NZ Transport Agency, KiwiRail, Lyttelton Port of Christchurch, Christchurch International Airport Ltd, Christchurch City Council, Selwyn and Waimakariri District Councils, Environment Canterbury and the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority – have just released three documents that will assist with future planning:
NZ Transport Agency Southern Regional Director Jim Harland, spokesman for the Greater Christchurch Transport Statement partners, says the three documents provide a comprehensive overview of current and future freight demand in the region and how the partners will work together to meet demand.
“The forecast growth in freight during the next 30 years is important for the economic prosperity of not only Greater Christchurch and Canterbury but also the South Island.
“Christchurch has an important role as a gateway to international markets and as a distribution centre for the whole of the South Island making it critical that we not only plan to protect and build resilience, efficiency and safety into our existing freight corridors but also begin to look at future infrastructure investment,” he says.
“The short-term focus is on managing demand and ensuring we use all available capacity within the existing transport network. We need to get more freight on rail, build capacity into air freight and move more freight on fewer trucks.”
Mr Harland says when all options to improve logistics and network efficiency have been exhausted the partners will then look to invest in new infrastructure; at the developments that are required to accommodate the growth at the port, airport and through distribution channels, as well as the transport network, whether road or rail.
He says all Greater Christchurch Transport Statement partners have endorsed the freight demand and infrastructure studies and are looking at their planning in relation to the potential measures identified in the Freight Management Directions Statement.
“This is a guiding document with suggested measures for the partners to look at how they can optimise freight efficiency, improve the network by capital investment that provides efficiency gains, minimises the impact on the environment, increases the use of rail and coastal shipping, while at the same time ensuring Greater Christchurch remains competitive within the national and international markets.”
The key issues identified through this work include congestion on Brougham Street, space constraints for growth at existing rail yards and decreased resilience with connections to Lyttelton Port with the current closure of the Sumner Road/Evans Pass route because of earthquake damage. The suggested measures to address these include the re-opening of Sumner Road, improved logistics operations, network optimisation of existing road and rail corridors and future protection of freight routes and hubs for efficient freight operations.
These measures will be developed further through the ongoing planning and network management by the partners, the review of the Christchurch District Plan, the implementation of the Land Use Recovery Plan and the development of the Lyttelton Port Recovery Plan.
Mr Harland says the next steps are to develop an action plan and undertake further detailed investigations into each option and develop business cases to confirm the need, possible solutions and timing for funding.
Access the reports here(external link).
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