Capacity constraints for Interislander over peak period

14 November 2013 3:03PM

Following the loss of one of Aratere’s propellers on 5 November, Interislander has undertaken a capacity assessment for its peak period through December and January and can confirm that with its existing timetable we will lose around 45 percent of our freight and passenger capacity.

“We are still working through all the options for the ship’s repair, and alternative arrangements until the Aratere returns to service.  At this stage, we expect the ship will not be operating a passenger service for up to six months, a leased ship would not be in service until mid-January and we will have constrained capacity during this period,” says Interislander General Manager Thomas Davis. 

“The Aratere is the workhorse of our fleet and carries out 38 crossings a week, which is 14 more crossings than the Kaitaki and the Arahura would normally carry out. It provides 45 percent of Interislander’s total capacity, and while we are intent on minimising disruption and restoring certainty around future bookings as quickly as possible, we will not be able to carry our usual freight and passenger volumes with our existing timetable.

“We originally forecast to carry approximately 200,000 passengers and 55,000 cars during December and January.  We now expect to carry only 140,000 passengers and 33,000 vehicles without an additional ship,” says Mr Davis.

Rail and CV Freight

The Cook Strait will be severely capacity constrained for both Rail and Commercial Vehicle Freight until January.

Over the peak period until the end of January, freight demand typically increases by 20 percent. This additional demand will not be able to be accommodated on the current available Cook Strait shipping capacity.

Rail Freight have secured container capacity that will enable freight to be shipped to Christchurch. Coastal services will depart three times a week offering 4/5 day delivery and will be transhipped through our Southdown facility in Auckland. To compensate for reduced rail-deck capacity, we have implemented a trailer operation to convey intermodal freight.

Based on Interislander’s Commercial Vehicle volume history, and rail freight requirements on Kaitaki sailings, we estimate lack of physical capacity of between 100 and 300 truck spaces in the lead-up to Christmas. We are asking our CV customers to explore other options where possible to avoid Cook Strait for any increase in current volume requirements, including Coastal Shipping and other Blue Water options, or not shipping Interisland at all until the New Year.

Passenger services

Existing passenger and vehicle bookings will be honoured and most have been moved to alternative sailings. We have been contacting affected passengers directly, and will continue to do so. 

As we move through rescheduling passengers, we will incrementally reopen the Arahura and Kaitaki for new bookings. However, there will be space for foot passengers only. We can take no additional vehicle bookings from the general public until the Aratere returns to service or a replacement ship is found.

“We thank our customers for their support and patience as we work our way through this difficult process and continue to look for solutions that will provide a positive outcome,” Mr Davis says.


Contact: Sophie Lee, Senior Communications Advisor, KiwiRail
(04) 498 3181 or (027) 435 9464