INTERISLANDER SECURES ARATERE COVER
22 March 2011
The Cook Strait ferry Aratere will leave New Zealand on April 13, after alternative capacity was secured to reduce disruption to rail, freight and passenger transport across the strait.
Interislander general manager Thomas Davis said that Strait Shipping's former freight and Bluebridge passenger ferry the Monte Stello has been leased for five months from the end of March, and will fill the gap while Aratere is away for a re-fit.
The re-fit is part of KiwiRail's Turnaround Plan, improving services to the company's customers and will boost Interislander's ability to carry rail freight as well as passengers and commercial vehicles.
As part of the re-fit, Aratere will be cut in half at the Sembawang shipyards in Singapore, and a new 30-metre long mid-body and a new bow installed. This will increase passenger capacity by about 300, vehicle capacity by 30 per cent, rail capacity by 27 per cent, and improve performance in rough weather. It is expected to cost approximately $40 million.
Mr Davis said Aratere would stop operations on April 10, leaving New Zealand on April 13, and it is expected to return into service in the second week of September, in time for the Rugby World Cup and the seasonal increase in rail freight.
He said the leasing of Monte Stello would help Interislander limit effects on freight and passenger customers during the time Aratere is in re-fit.
"Staff have been outstanding in the efforts they have made to prepare for this, and I am confident that we will continue to operate efficiently and effectively throughout the absence of Aratere."