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Brownlee says Clifford Bay ferry terminal issue is being worked on

Friday 26th October 2012

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Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee says he will take a paper to cabinet before Christmas on the possibility of a ferry terminal at Clifford Bay in Marlborough.

The government has been looking at building a new sea freight ferry terminal at Clifford Bay, south of Seddon, which 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.

Port Marlborough, which operates the existing ferry terminal in Picton, said in its annual report this month that the absence of any direction as to the government's intention on the issue was making its planning difficult.

Mainfreight managing director Don Braid said 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."

In a statement on Friday, Brownlee utterly refuted the suggestion that duties as Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Minister meant he was not devoting time to transport matters.

"On the contrary, and specifically related to the issue Mr Braid raised - the possibility of a ferry terminal at Clifford Bay in Marlborough - I have been working on this with officials for a number of months to ensure that any proposal that goes to cabinet is suitably robust.

"I anticipate a paper will go to cabinet before Christmas," he said.

Braid wants the Cook Strait ferries to continue to be capable of carrying rail wagons, which preserves the national rail network.

State-owned KiwiRail, which runs the existing rail-capable ferries on the Cook Strait, is holding its annual public meeting today in Wellington.

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