KiwiRail has moved to secure the future of the Cook Strait link by purchasing the Interislander ferry Kaitaki, the largest domestic passenger ferry operating in New Zealand. The ship had previously been leased.
“The Interislander fleet is the extension of SH1 across Cook Strait. Our ships are vital for tourism, and an important piece of the integrated transport network for freight, with road and rail working together to help drive New Zealand’s growth,” KiwiRail Chief Executive Peter Reidy says.
“We make up to 4000 sailings a year.
“Last financial year KiwiRail’s Interislander ferries carried more than 1 million net tonnes of freight, 83,000 commercial vehicles and 800,000 passengers.
“The ability to move large numbers of passengers across the strait is critical for KiwiRail’s tourism business, and for New Zealand’s tourism industry, which is the country’s largest earner of overseas funds.
“Nearly 190,000 people are directly employed in the tourism sector.
“Ensuring visitors are able to travel between the North Island and the South Island easily makes sure that the benefits – and the jobs – are spread through the country.
“The Kaitaki can carry up to 1350 passengers, more than the Aratere and the Kaiarahi combined.
“The ship had been leased from Irish Ferries, based in Dublin, but with the lease due to run out in 2020 there was no certainty that the ship would be available after that.
“There is a world-wide shortage of suitable secondhand ferries and heavy competition for those ships that are available, so the best option was to take up the opportunity to purchase the ferry.
“Interislander leased the Kaitaki in 2005, and it has proved itself on what can be a challenging route.
“KiwiRail has been working with the port companies to look at long-term plans for ships and terminals and this decision means that we have the time to make sure we get the best possible solution. Getting this right is important for both KiwiRail and New Zealand.
“Passengers and freight customers will not notice any change as a result of the purchase. The only difference is that the ship will be registered in New Zealand instead of Portsmouth.
“The Interislander team is dedicated to providing the very best of service both to our passengers and to those shipping freight across the strait. This purchase is an important part of doing that,” says Mr Reidy.
| A KIWI Rail release || May 17,2017 |||