The $18m Fairfield Freight Hub is making steady progress towards being ready earlier than expected.
Wareing Group director Mark Wareing says that after five months of construction, things are tracking ahead of schedule thanks to a dry winter.
The completion date was October next year when construction began, based on the timing of doing the surface sealing after winter, he said.
“At this stage, we are on track to get that done before winter — so maybe April.”
That could mean the shunting yards could shift out of the centre of town early next year and out to the freight hub.
That was a pleasing progress report for the Ashburton District councillors and Rangitata MP Jo Luxton who were visiting the site.
The new rail siding, replacing and extending the old siding of the former Fairton freezing works, is nearing completion.
The only delay could be the installation of the new signals by KiwiRail, Wareing said.
Then the focus goes on preparing the 35,000sqm site for pavement sealing, which includes 1,058m of kerb and channel around the outside.
The pavement is in two halves, truck only and container storage.
Contractors Fulton Hogan and Tarbotton Civil are working towards getting the truck-only side completed by the end of December.
The other half will then follow in the new year, followed by the construction of a storage shed and reefer towers.
“A reefer tower has power in it that you can keep a chilled or frozen container going.”
The hub will have the capacity for 120 containers to be kept chilled once all four reefer towers are completed.
Once operational the hub will process around 20,000 containers per year and moving the containers on rail will see a reduction of around 40,000 truck movements per year, Wareing said.
The installation of the Waka Kotahi’s weigh stations north of Rakaia could also be a boost for the hub Wareing said, with more operators looking to utilise rail.
The project is a tri-party commercial development led by the Wareing Group (which wholly owns Fairfield Freight Hub Ltd) with KiwiRail and the Ashburton District Council.
The council is contributing $2.3m to help fund the relocation of the rail yard from the town centre to the purpose-built facility at Fairton, which will be covered by funding from the Three Waters Reform Better Off Funding support package.
The Government is also chipping in with $2.5m from Waka Kotahi’s NZ Upgrade Programme.
By Jonathan Leask