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Interisland Line to Revisit Clifford Bay

Interisland Line to Revisit Clifford Bay

The Interisland Line, a business group of Tranz Rail Ltd, is to re-examine the potential for using Clifford Bay as its South Island port of operations.

Detailed analysis of the potential for using Clifford Bay is part of Tranz Rail’s future strategy for growth, announced by the company at a briefing in Auckland last night.

The Interisland Line Group General Manager Thomas Davis said any construction of a new terminal at Clifford Bay would be likely to be based on a joint venture.

“We would look for investors to design, build and operate the terminal in return for a long-term commitment from The Interisland Line as the main customer of the new facility,” says Mr Davis.

“A move to Clifford Bay could potentially create a more efficient and cost effective freight and passenger link between New Zealand’s two main islands reducing the Wellington-Christchurch trip by around two hours.

“We believe there could be significant gains to be made in port costs, fuel costs, time savings and the mix of ferries-possibly reducing from three to two-we would need to operate across this shorter distance. We already have the consents in place for this terminal and will look to move quickly if the analysis stacks up.”

Mr Davis said the trip from Wellington to Clifford Bay would take just two to two and half hours for the conventional ferries, instead of the current three, with passengers linking directly into State Highway One. Readily available marshalling space at Clifford Bay would also allow the creation of a more efficient rail link into the South Island Main Trunk line.

“With a purpose-built terminal at Clifford Bay we would not be subject to some of the constraints we currently have in Picton and as the main contractor for terminal services we would not be subject to concerns we currently face around port charges.”

Mr Davis said there had been a great deal of interest from investors when discussing construction and operating options for Clifford Bay in the past.

Detailed analysis of the Clifford Bay option by both The Interisland Line and independent consultants is underway with a decision on going ahead with the new terminal likely by December. The terminal could be in operation by late 2005.

Mr Davis said a move to Clifford Bay would provide Picton with an opportunity to reinvent itself as a destination within the Marlborough Sounds rather than a transit point for through traffic.

ENDS

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