A group of seven councils is joining forces with the NZ Transport Agency (NZTA), KiwiRail and Auckland Transport to find new ways of moving freight more efficiently through the upper North Island.
More than fifty five percent of New Zealand’s freight travels through the Northland, Auckland, Waikato and Bay of Plenty regions, and collectively these regions generate over fifty percent of New Zealand’s gross domestic product.
The efficient movement of freight through the upper North Island is critical to New Zealand’s economic success.
The Upper North Island Strategic Alliance (UNISA) is made up of Northland Regional Council, Whangarei District Council, Auckland Council, Waikato Regional Council, Hamilton City Council, Bay of Plenty Regional Council and Tauranga City Council. UNISA is collaborating with Auckland Transport, KiwiRail and the New Zealand Transport Agency to work together on initiatives to reduce the costs of doing business in New Zealand - through an upper North Island lens.
NZ Transport Agency Regional Director Stephen Town says delivering freight efficiencies can in turn reduce costs of trade – with the upshot being cheaper goods for New Zealanders and a competitive advantage for New Zealand importers and exporters.
Mr Town says the first step for UNISA, KiwiRail, Auckland Transport and the NZTA is to work together across the sector to better understand New Zealand’s freight task.
“Right now we are working with network providers to develop that understanding, and once we’ve got a clear picture and a common understanding of the challenges and the opportunities we can work together, with industry and Ports to find ways to realise efficiencies. By working together we know we can improve New Zealand’s supply chains across the entire freight system – not only on local roads, state highways, the rail network, coastal shipping, ports and airports, but we can also look at the way goods transfers to other modes, and the regulatory services that govern freight.”
All of the organisations involved share the view that to invest smarter and deliver better certainty for industry and investors, they need to understand the picture at an upper North Island scale and work together on the critical priorities that will add the most value.
KiwiRail Chief Executive Jim Quinn says that in delivering an efficient freight network for New Zealand it is important that they work together with other network providers to find integrated solutions.
“Because rail is such an integral part of the country’s freight networks it is an important opportunity to work across the sector to better understand freight flows and industry requirements into the future.”
This approach has and continues to involve discussions with industry, operators and Ports, to ensure their views are included, and that their needs can be better understood.