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October 12, 2010 Return to rail benefits farmers and the land

The past has become the future for a local lime company who have returned to rail transport in a bid to cut costs and reduce their company’s carbon footprint.

Hatuma Lime transported their products by rail from 1932 until 2000, when the introduction of new high-speed trains meant the wagons used to transport the lime could not be used.

Hatuma Director of Operations and Production Daniel Topp said the company was keen to return to rail transport because it was a much more environmentally friendly way to transport their product.

“Every day we’d be loading trucks for Palmerston North and Levin – the same route that the train was going, and it just seemed crazy.

“The agricultural sector gets a lot of criticism for its impact on the environment so it’s really important that agricultural businesses like us to us do what we can to take care of the environment. One of the easiest ways to be a little greener is to use rail transport,” Mr Topp said.

KiwiRail were just as keen to get Hatuma back on the tracks.

KiwiRail regional sales executive Ron Armstrong said freight trains could carry larger loads of Hatuma’s lime and dicalcic phosphate products, while decreasing their fuel consumption.

“Trains are three times more fuel efficient compared to road transport so we knew rail would be the right solution for Hatuma. All that was needed was a bit of Kiwi ingenuity to develop certified water tight containers that were compatible with our trains,” Mr Armstrong said.

Hatuma Lime chose to modify shipping containers so the lime could be loaded onto trucks and ships.

Mr Topp said KiwiRail’s commitment to shift Hatuma Lime by train was impressive.

“Our lime sales are seasonal so we can’t guarantee KiwiRail a steady supply to shift but they were still keen to help us out. Their flexibility made rail a viable option for us again.”

Mr Topp said while road transport would always be needed to deliver their product directly to farms, using rail to lessen the company’s impact on the environment was central to their company’s philosophy.

“Climate change is something all businesses need to consider – we all need to be greener.”
A Ministry of Transport study estimated that the total rail system environmental costs are about 1% of the total road system environmental costs.

Mr Topp said the savings gained through rail transport are not only for the environment but also farmers’ pockets.

“Transporting by rail will cut our costs and we will eventually be passing those savings on to our customers.

“The railway has been part of Hatuma’s history since the beginning. My grandfather would be very proud that we have been able to make it part of Hatuma’s future,” Mr Topp said.

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