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Mainfreight ready to handle Christmas rush

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 9/11/2016 Jonathan Underhill

Mainfreight managing director Don Braid says he will take on more trucks and ships in the lead-up to what he expects to be record pre-Christmas volumes in New Zealand because KiwiRail doesn't have enough rolling stock to deliver services he expected as an investor alongside rail.

Mainfreight said on Thursday first-half earnings in New Zealand rose 28 per cent to $37 million as sales increased 6.1 per cent to $288m.

The company says it is winning market share and volumes are rising in New Zealand. But what's expected to be a record freight load in the run-up to Christmas is "necessitating additional road and coastal shipping resource to offset a lack of rail capacity."

"We have invested in rail service land and now we can't get rail services," Braid told BusinessDesk.

"Rail is struggling with lack of capacity to take the work we want to give them, particular in regional."

He said there is inadequate capacity on routes south from Hamilton and Tauranga which force Mainfreight to seek alternatives, which was disappointing.

KiwiRail has been funded by the government to build up its fleet and took delivery of its first new rolling stock in decades starting in 2010.

In July, the KiwiRail board approved the purchase of 15 additional DL class locomotives from CRRC Corp subsidiary Dalian Locomotive and Rolling Stock for delivery in 2018.

Alan Piper, KiwiRail's group general manager sales and commercial, said New Zealand's freight market is experiencing higher demand this year "which is a reflection of a buoyant local economy".

"Our priority this year has been meeting service and capacity requirements for our customers particularly in Auckland, Palmerston North and Christchurch," Piper said.

"We are, however, also working with our logistics partners such as Mainfreight to create new capacity between Tauranga, Hamilton and the lower North Island and South Island markets, which are key growth areas for KiwiRail."

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