Businesses want urgency on Cook Strait freight services

BUSINESSDESK: Business leaders want the government to hurry up and decide future transport arrangements for Cook Strait but fear Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee is diverted by the Christchurch rebuild.

The government is looking at building a new sea freight ferry terminal at Clifford Bay, south of Seddon, and it has some important decisions to make about ferries.

A new sea freight terminal at Clifford Bay could reduce ferry crossing times by half an hour and cut the travel time to Christchurch by 50 minutes for road and 80 minutes for rail.

It would be a huge boost to the South Island economy but would cost in excess of $300 million.

Mainfreight managing director Don Braid says his company had committed to rail "by putting ourselves on rail land in Wellington", but services between Wellington and Christchurch were disappointing and better timing was needed.

"Rail is not working for us from Wellington to the South Island. It is a weak link. We've got a transport minister who is deflected by other issues and is not devoting any time to transport."

He did not have a preference for a terminal location as long as the ferries remained rail capable, preserving the national rail system.

The "idiots" who ran Tranz Rail previously wanted to take rail tracks out of the ferries so wagons could no longer be loaded on them. "We were aghast," he says.

He sees a future for Picton in servicing passenger ferries.

"I do believe that Picton still has a role to play for tourism and you would run a passenger vessel from Wellington to Picton. For freight, if they can make Clifford Bay work that is fine."

Those interested in partnering with the government on a terminal at Clifford Bay were expecting a decision in September.

In July 2011 an independent report found an economic case for the project. Mr Brownlee was briefed on the issue on May 4, June 1 and August 30, and a draft business case has been prepared, he told the parliament.

The issue is a total headache for Port Marlborough, which was forced to say in its annual report that the threat of Clifford Bay "casts a long shadow" over its operations.

"In the absence of any direction as to the government's intention, the impact on our ability to plan ahead with surety and to secure investment commitment for development projects has been substantial," chief executive Ian McNabb said.

There are existing resource consents for a ferry terminal at Clifford Bay.

The Clifford Bay terminal would better connect Christchurch with Wellington and Auckland, and increase productivity in the South Island, the government has been advised.

This article is tagged with the following keywords. Find out more about My Tags

2 Comments & Questions

Commenter icon key: Subscriber Verified

What a daft suggestion ! Freight to one port, passengers to another!? As if every passenger is a tourist ! Do freight and people travel on separate ferries anyway...... er...not always.

i suppose he felt he had to say that to not put the willies up the POM.

Reply
Share

Why not just dock at Lyttelton and spend the investment dollars in a way that would improve the port as well rather than starting from scratch.Probably save $ too on roading South of Clifford Bay, limited freight traffic could still use Picton for areas better/quicker serviced from Picton.

Reply
Share

Post New comment or question

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

NZ Market Snapshot

Forex

Sym Price Change
USD 0.7900 0.0015 0.19%
AUD 0.9088 0.0004 0.04%
EUR 0.6379 0.0004 0.06%
GBP 0.5047 0.0005 0.10%
HKD 6.1280 0.0083 0.14%
JPY 92.8860 0.0450 0.05%

Commods

Commodity Price Change Time
Gold Index 1201.1 7.690 2014-11-21T00:
Oil Brent 78.6 -0.120 2014-11-21T00:
Oil Nymex 76.5 0.710 2014-11-21T00:
Silver Index 16.4 0.260 2014-11-21T00:

Indices

Symbol Open High Last %
NZX 50 5526.9 5526.9 5526.9 -0.56%
NASDAQ 4751.0 4751.6 4701.9 0.24%
DAX 9521.2 9736.1 9484.0 2.62%
DJI 17721.0 17894.8 17719.0 0.51%
FTSE 6678.9 6773.1 6678.9 1.08%
HKSE 23353.7 23508.0 23349.6 0.37%
NI225 17285.7 17381.6 17300.9 0.33%