NLTP 2015-2018: Investing in freight


A key objective for the recently released 2015- 18 National Land Transport Programme (NLTP) is delivering safer and more efficient freight movements.


The NLTP features a range of investments across New Zealand, including many with our local government partners, to lift freight efficiency, productivity and improve safety. Part of the work to develop this programme has been through discussions with decision-makers across the freight system. Here are some of the highlights of this $13.9 billion programme.

Integrating road and rail to move freight

A key priority is integrating road and rail to improve freight network productivity. Currently New Zealand’s rail network moves around 16 per cent of the total freight task, equivalent to 1.4 million truck combination trips each year. Better coordination of planning and development of road and rail freight connections will support safer and more efficient movement of freight within national and international markets.

Better connecting Northland

The Transport Agency’s investment in Ara Tūhono Puhoi to Wellsford will significantly improve the main link between Auckland and Northland. Building a safer, more reliable highway for motorists, freight vehicles and tourists will better connect Northland to Auckland and benefit local communities along the way, especially Warkworth.

More predictable freight journeys in our cities

The NLTP includes a greater emphasis on providing greater urban journey time predictability, which is particularly important for businesses, with delays adding inefficiencies and cost. The challenge is greatest in Auckland with around 50 million tonnes of freight moved within Auckland each year and forecast to grow to approximately 90 million tonnes by 2042. Around 80% of this freight is moved within Auckland, while the rest either comes from or is going to the rest of New Zealand by air, road, rail or coastal ship. The NLTP will invest in a number of measures to improve this predictability.

This includes the proposed investment in the East-West Connections Project to provide more efficient, predictable and safe freight journeys to and from the Onehunga-Penrose area in South Auckland, a crucial national freight hub.

Safer and more efficient freight flow to and from New Zealand’s productive heartlands

The Waikato Expressway carries a high volume of freight vehicles to and from some of New Zealand’s most significant areas of production, distribution, import and export. The expressway will reduce congestion, improve safety and provide journey time savings of up to 35 minutes for road freight moving to or from the rest of New Zealand.

Resilient, safe and efficient freight connections through the lower North Island

In the lower North Island, continued investment in the Wellington Northern Corridor will provide safer, more efficient, predictable and resilient travel for road freight from Horowhenua to Wellington. This will improve access for 2,600 heavy vehicles a day that travel on this strategic freight corridor and provide better connectivity to the two inter-island ferry terminals in Wellington.

Future-proofed access through and around Christchurch

The NLTP will continue the roll-out of the Christchurch motorways that will provide a more direct, reliable link between the Canterbury hinterland and the growing international port at Lyttelton. The motorways will also provide better access to Christchurch International Airport.

Continuing to get more freight on fewer trucks

This NLTP also continues the Transport Agency’s priority work to allow for the uptake of high productivity motor vehicles (HPMVs). Along with reducing the cost of moving freight, HPMVs are also safer, cleaner and more fuel efficient than the older vehicles they are progressively replacing. HPMVs play an important role in managing the growing freight task, which over the next 30 years will grow from 236 million to over 373 million tonnes. This NLTP allows for continued investment in expanding network access for HPMVs, including expanding 50MAX access where it is feasible to do so. We now have 50MAX operating on most of the State Highway network and at least some part of almost all Council networks.

Weigh/Right for smarter compliance and productivity

The NLTP also includes an initiative on smarter weight compliance, called Weigh/Right. Around 10per cent of heavy vehicles have been found to be operating above legal weight limits, creating additional wear and tear on the network – the cost of which is passed on to other road users. The Transport Agency has been working with the Commercial Vehicles Investigation Unit (CVIU) of the NZ Police and local authorities on opportunities to introduce smarter compliance tools.

This is just a summary, for more information on the 2015- 18 NLTP please take a look at our website here.

David Silvester
Acting Freight Portfolio Director
NZ Transport Agency