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Palmerston North 'inland port' on hold

By Phil Boeyen, ShareChat Business News Editor

Tuesday 21st August 2001

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Ports of Auckland (NZSE: POA) has put its inland port venture at Palmerston North on hold until the end of the year.

The company first announced the concept in March but says it has raised complex issues for Tranz Rail which need to be worked out.

Under the deal the company planned to invest up to $5 million for a daily dedicated rail service with Palmerston North. It would own the rolling stock while Tranz Rail would operate the service under contract.

POA chairman Neville Darrow says the concept is an excellent one, but in spite of the combined efforts, the two companies have not yet been able to bring the deal to a conclusion.

"Notwithstanding the very significant endeavours by both parties to convert the heads of agreement into a binding, operational contract, we find it raises more complex issues for Tranz Rail that need to be worked through.

"Accordingly, we are working together with Tranz Rail to see if we can establish a broader relationship. A joint study is under way and we expect to have that completed by the end of the year."

Mr Darrow says in the short-term the project has been put on hold while the wider study is progressed.

"The wider relationship with Tranz Rail is important because both parties share a vision as to the future freight dynamics for the country and there is considerable scope for us to pursue joint initiatives for mutual gain."

Meanwhile in a new marketing initiative, Ports of Auckland boss Geoff Vazey says the company plans to open a number of micro ports around the Auckland region to take its services directly to key import and export customers.

"The micro ports will provide importers and exporters with a cost-effective and timely service. They will bring the port right to their door."

Mr Vazey says the first of the sites, which will be either in south Auckland or east Tamaki, will be operating by the end of the year.

A micro port is a depot that receives containers trucked from exporters in the immediate area and also delivers import containers to trucks for a short hop to local importers' premises.

"Ports of Auckland will shuttle containers between the port and the micro site at night, avoiding road congestion. The benefits will include convenience for cargo owners, fewer trucks on city roads during peak traffic times and an increase in Ports of Auckland's capacity by using less expensive land than at the waterfront location."

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