No Clifford Bay

November 14th, 2013 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Gerry Brownlee has announced:

The outcome of a study into the commercial viability of a ferry terminal at in Marlborough has concluded Picton should remain as the southern terminal for the inter-island ferries, Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee announced today.

Over the past year a Ministry of Transport-led expert team has been testing whether Clifford Bay could be delivered as a fully privately funded project. 

“We have been delivered a thorough and robust report which clearly shows Clifford Bay is not commercially viable as a fully privately funded project, and the level of investment required at Picton over the next decade to extend its life would be substantially less than previously estimated,” Mr Brownlee says.

The project team estimated a ferry terminal at Clifford Bay could be delivered by 2022, at a cost of $525 million.  This left a gap the Government would have been required to fill to induce private sector investment in the construction and operation of the terminal.

Good for Picton, good for taxpayers but bad for travellers and freight.

It would have been great if the business case stacked up, as Clifford Bay would both significantly shorten both the time at sea (no having to slow down for Marlborough Sounds) and the time between docking and reaching Christchurch. The time saved would have been between 80 and 110 minutes which is huge.

But the amount of money needed was too great it seems, plus the costs of remaining at Picton turned out to be lower than previously expected (which is good)

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26 Responses to “No Clifford Bay”

  1. Samuel Smith (276 comments) says:

    Excellent news.

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  2. tvb (4,554 comments) says:

    Not all traffic goes to Christchurch. So the saving does not advantage all travellers. The journey through the sounds is very scenic and picton is purpose built with many amenities for travellers including restaurants and accommodation. I am glad picton has been saved. It is a charming place. Clifford Bay would be cold wet and windy.

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  3. holysheet (467 comments) says:

    What about going direct to Lyttleton?

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  4. RRM (10,099 comments) says:

    Good for Picton, good for taxpayers but bad for travellers and freight.

    I disagree that it’s bad for freight. If the Clifford Bay terminal is uneconomical compared to Picton, then surely the costs of damning the torpedoes and doing Clifford Bay anyway would be bad for freight too?

    I disagree that it’s bad for travellers. Even with all the cardboard development in recent years, Picton is still a good little town to stop in, if you have to wait around for your ferry. And if you’re going the other way, the Tory Channel entrance and cruise along the sounds is a magnificent way to arrive in the South Island.

    I notice most Wellington people who like sailing to the Sounds, keep their yachts moored in the Porirua harbour and head out from there – there must be a reason?

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  5. RRM (10,099 comments) says:

    What else would be good for travellers, would be if they thought a little bit harder about what movies they play in the onboard cinema.

    When I went across in 1998 they were screening Titanic.

    When I went across in 2002 they were screening K-19 the widowmaker…

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  6. labrator (1,851 comments) says:

    I am glad picton has been saved.

    I’m not sure how you equate having a giant commercial port in a tiny scenic wonderland is saving it. Picton would’ve flourished without the port. My opinion is a lot more people would go there if it didn’t feel like an airport. The crossing is a dull affair and the wonders of the sounds over stated from the viewpoints that the ferry spends most of its time in front of. It’s like taking a scenic tour through a forestry estate, mostly stumps and new pine growth.

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  7. jackinabox (776 comments) says:

    This Clifford Bay crap is trotted out every time the Picton Harbour leases are due for renewal. The people of Picton are well aware of the “scare” tactics and have a quiet laugh each time it the Government tries it on.

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  8. annie (539 comments) says:

    Very bad for travellers. Not only do you have the extra driving time down a dangerous stretch of road, but are faced with trying to find decent cafe food in Picton, Even pleasant service would be a start.

    Most of the bigger cafes smell of tired grease, and the food pretty much matches the smell. I can never wait to get out of the place and on the road.

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  9. RichardX (330 comments) says:

    RRM (8,293) Says:
    November 14th, 2013 at 3:27 pm

    I disagree that it’s bad for freight. If the Clifford Bay terminal is uneconomical compared to Picton, then surely the costs of damning the torpedoes and doing Clifford Bay anyway would be bad for freight too?

    The economics for Clifford Bay don’t stack up for freight as they have to build the terminal from scratch as opposed to redeveloping the existing infrastructure in Picton

    For travellers though you may have a point.
    If you are trying to get from A (Wellington) to B (Chch), you don’t neccessarily want to pass through C (Picton) but if your sole purpose is to get to Chch as soon as posible I guess you’d fly anyway

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  10. BlairM (2,340 comments) says:

    How does it cost half a billion dollars to build a shed with a pier and a ramp?!!!!

    There are communist mausoleums that have come in with a cheaper budget than that. Somebody somewhere is being full of shit on that one.

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  11. RRM (10,099 comments) says:

    Blair – there’s no natural sheltered harbour at Clifford Bay.

    Before you can build your pier, you have to build a sea wall to keep out the ocean swells, big enough to contain your pier and a turning circle for the ships. Kinda like a large earth / rock dam in the ocean.

    And 3 or 4 km of road to connect to SH1…

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  12. virtualmark (1,306 comments) says:

    If the supposed rationale for Clifford Bay was to land people and freight 45 minutes closer to Christchurch, and that’s supposedly so valuable, then why doesn’t either the Interislander or the BlueBridge (re-)instigate a Wellington-Lyttleton service?

    I’d have thought you could have a driver drop a truck trailer off in Wellington at 6pm, and another driver pick it up in Lyttleton before 6am.

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  13. freedom101 (513 comments) says:

    Now that the uncertainty in Picton has lifted I would expect to see a whole lot of projects commence which have been on hold for years. Picton will move ahead, and a lot of the criticism directed at the town will evaporate.

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  14. UrbanNeocolonialist (314 comments) says:

    Putting a ferry terminal on the Wellington south coast and another in Clifford Bay would also make fast ferries viable – as it would more than halve the journey distance, cutting even more time off the trip.

    And I have to agree that 500 million sounds very steep. Perhaps the numbers were tortured to give the required answer (status quo always pisses off the fewest people)

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  15. toad (3,674 comments) says:

    But the amount of money needed was too great it seems, plus the costs of remaining at Picton turned out to be lower than previously expected…

    What a pity the Government can’t reach the same conclusion about the road lobby driven Transmission Gully and Puhoi-Wellsford Holiday Highway roading projects that are similarly uneconomic.

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  16. Johnboy (17,051 comments) says:

    Fuck the freight carriers. Let them build a terminal at Clifford Bay. The best part of the trip is the cruise through the sounds.

    You can drink more without spilling it there usually! :)

    Unless they scrape the bottom on the rocks (Cue Winston)! :)

    Or El Lemon drops it’s prop due to Spanish/Asian engineering! :)

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  17. Johnboy (17,051 comments) says:

    Your poor bitch Julie tried to bring that one up today in QT and got done over by Fat’s…. just after chinless ginga got owned Toadie!

    Guess what. None of us give a fuck. We just wants a bloody road! :)

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  18. OneTrack (3,362 comments) says:

    “Guess what. None of us give a fuck. We just wants a bloody road! ”

    Neolib! You will take the train and you will like it. Just follow the example of the Green MPs, suchas Gareth Hughes, Graham Kennedy and Julie Genter. Wherever they travel, they all use the train – they are setting the example for us to follow. Oh. Wait…..

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  19. Newbie (56 comments) says:

    As one of the main issues is about reducing the travelling time between Picton and Christchurch, has any consideration/studies been given to improving the roading network between Picton and Christchurch? If the tight bends were straightened out, more passing lanes created (especially on the hills), the single lane bridge on the Hurunui River replaced by a two lane bridge, and a bypass for Blenheim was created, the travelling time would be much reduced.

    There have been road improvements and a new route between Kaikoura and Cheviot; this reduced the travelling time by 10-15 minutes between these two towns.

    Naturally, Blenheim retailers will oppose a bypass, but the reality is that the majority of ferry traffic don’t stop in Blenheim – over the summer holidays they go straight to Nelson or continue on south.

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  20. Keeping Stock (9,380 comments) says:

    I wonder if the recent earthquakes around Seddon played any part in the decision.

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  21. Yogibear (375 comments) says:

    Newbie – Christchurch North (i.e. the Kaikouras) and South have been signaled as part of the next tranche of RONS.

    Brownlee is interestingly silent on what the (probably correct) Picton decision means for Kiwirail. Its a double blow for them as not only do they not get the time savings, they also lose productivity as they cant get their biggest trains up the hill at Picton, having to split them up. Does this mean the government is willing to wear the reduction in commercial viability Kiwirail now face relative to their forecast with Clifford Bay in place?

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  22. Yogibear (375 comments) says:

    Keeping Stock – Highly unlikely. A big hit round there will just as likely impact Picton and Wellington.

    My view is the Picton decision is a victory for commercial reality over economics. I’ve heard rumor that the benefit cost ratio for Clifford Bay was very good (5+) but that was largely made up of value of time savings. The small issue with that was the premium travellers to Clifford Bay would have to pay to cover the development cost and to gain the time saving, and the assumption that all consumers were rational and value their time appropriately.

    The problem was Strait Shipping could have stayed in Picton and offered a 50% discount on Kiwirail – something most non-freight passengers would find hard to go past, and a good chunk of road freight transport would also bank because they still beat a train into Christchurch on the Auckland run.

    Bottom line is if we had a monoploy across the Strait, we’d probably all be paying for the extra costs of Clifford Bay right now. Competition and choice of provider meant those costs could not be dictated to us.

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  23. V (765 comments) says:

    Maybe Kiwirail should look at upgrading its line into Picton if it is such and issue.

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  24. Yogibear (375 comments) says:

    V – thats about as useful as throwing rocks at a tank.

    Leaving aside the fact that they are still an hour down on time due to extra distance and speed restrictions through the sounds, the only way to “upgrade” the rail line is to blast your way or tunnel through the very big hill that cuts Picton off from the world. The time gains would be marginal and the only benefit is capacity as they can run their 1700 tonne trains through rather than splitting them at Picton

    The commercial reality of that is even more dopey than Clifford Bay.

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  25. Shazzadude (531 comments) says:

    It’s a win for tourist travellers, the sounds are breathtaking.

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  26. GJKiwi (175 comments) says:

    “It’s a win for tourist travellers, the sounds are breathtaking.”

    If the tourists really want to see the sounds, they can always take a water taxi.

    Short term thinking wins the day! $500 million? Oh, lets see, again only about $100 per person in New Zealand. The country could write it off in one day. Never mind. And the savings? I would suggest that the fuel savings in not having to drive the extra distance would easily save the country over $500 million in just over 6 months with the new port at Clifford Bay. Also, people who live in Wellington and Christchurch could take a day trip to the other city, as the ferry time is much shorter, and so is the road trip. The overall time savings would be several hours, 2.5 hours to Clifford Bay, instead of 4 to 5 hours to Picton and then quite a time saving on the ferry trip, so overall, probably in excess of 3 hours shorter trip. The fuel savings alone would seem to make the investment worth while. So, manipulating the figures and then not taking the overall picture into account comes up with the result that the solution is not viable. Yes, the ferry trip through the sounds is nice, but tourists interviewed in Picton basically gave Picton the thumbs down. Also, you could always transfer the business owners to Clifford Bay, and build modern facilities for them as well, thus alleviating their economic pain. Simple really.

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