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Finance Minister Michael Cullen is offering Auckland $6 million to get more shipping containers off the region's roads, and on to trains.
He has made an offer of a Government grant towards a rail shuttle link between the waterfront container terminals and Wiri, subject to formal Cabinet approval, in a bid to break a negotiating impasse between Ontrack and Ports of Auckland Ltd.
The port company has already spent $19 million buying and developing 10ha of land beside the North Island main trunk railway line for an "inland port" at Wiri, using it as a staging post through which it shifts about 20,000 containers a year by road.
But it has spent several years trying to persuade Ontrack, the Government's rail agency, to build a siding so it can boost that number to more than 100,000 containers with shuttle trains running at night.
That should ease the burden of container traffic on motorways and local roads, including some where residents are said to be concerned that heavy trucks thundering past their homes have caused foundation cracking.
Although neither party is disclosing just how much is needed to develop the siding, citing the sensitivity of negotiations, the port company was understood last year to be seeking $7 million from the Government.
Dr Cullen's offer to provide most of that money remains conditional on the successful conclusion of negotiations between the company and Ontrack over the balance of funds needed, which he has asked the rail agency to do its best to accelerate.
For the full story, go to:
The New Zealand Herald
Friday June 27, 2008
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