Wellington transport 'prepared for growth'

DAVE BURGESS
Last updated 05:00 10/01/2014

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Transport infrastructure providers have prepared Wellington to grow and prosper, according to CentrePort chief executive Blair O'Keeffe.

He said that although some might question the source of future economic growth in the region, those providing transport infrastructure read a "different set of tea leaves".

"Wellington is literally paving the way to capture its share of transport-related growth, with unprecedented levels of investment occurring across all key modes of transport."

O'Keeffe said there had been significant investment in the seaport, the rail network, new passenger trains, freight wagons, and the development of the Wellington rail yard.

Wellington Airport had been upgraded, with runway extension plans under development.

Both Cook Strait ferry operators had recently upgraded their fleets, commissioning larger vessels.

And huge sums were being invested in the Levin to Wellington Road of National Significance, including the $1.3 billion Transmission Gully project scheduled to start next year.

"This is a positive growth story featuring actual growth and a financially supported belief in more to come."

O'Keeffe said New Zealand needs a strong North-Centre-South transport hub system to operate efficiently and effectively.

"Wellington has always been the logical [Central] transport hub for the lower North [to] upper South Island area. This logic prevails in the investment decisions being made today.

"With much of the necessary investment already completed or started, the centre of New Zealand is well positioned for the predicted growth."

O'Keeffe said the economy depended on the efficient movement of freight and people and connecting road, rail, sea and air transport to people and cargo and local and overseas markets was vital.

"At the heart of a successful transport network is a working transport hub which connects the transport modes and . . . relays both people and freight.

"From such transport and trade hubs cities are born. Wellington is a working example of this."

Wellington had about 20 million tonnes of cargo and 40 million people passing through it each year, by road, rail, air and sea, O'Keeffe said.

He added that the movement of people and freight was expected to increase over the next 20 years and tourism was expected to grow 4 per cent annually.

"This growth demands considered and timely investment in infrastructure to meet these needs.

"In most cases the investment needs to occur years if not decades in advance."

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