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Replacement ferry here in December

Replacement ferry here in December

NZ Truck & Driver News

 December 2021   

KiwiRail has confirmed a 12-month lease for an additional Cook Strait freight ferry.

The Valentine, a Belgium-flagged 162m Ro-Ro cargo vessel, is expected to join the Aratere and Kaitaki on the inter-island crossing from late-December as KiwiRail faces ongoing delays to the repair of the Kaiarahi.

KiwiRail says the Valentine is completing technical due diligence in England now, ahead of sailing to New Zealand. It is due to arrive in mid-December and Interislander crews will familiarise themselves with the ship before it begins working the Cook Strait, likely later in December.

 “Having another ferry will ensure capacity and provide resilience on this important link in the New Zealand supply chain,” says KiwiRail group chief executive Craig Miller.

 “KiwiRail’s role is to ensure the SH1 and main trunk rail connection between the North and South Islands stays open, and Valentine will provide us with the ability to make sure that happens during the busiest period of the year for NZers taking summer holidays.

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KiwiRail has confirmed a 12-month lease for an additional Cook Strait freight ferry.

The Valentine, a Belgium-flagged 162m Ro-Ro cargo vessel, is expected to join the Aratere and Kaitaki on the inter-island crossing from late-December as KiwiRail faces ongoing delays to the repair of the Kaiarahi.

KiwiRail says the Valentine is completing technical due diligence in England now, ahead of sailing to New Zealand. It is due to arrive in mid-December and Interislander crews will familiarise themselves with the ship before it begins working the Cook Strait, likely later in December.

 “Having another ferry will ensure capacity and provide resilience on this important link in the New Zealand supply chain,” says KiwiRail group chief executive Craig Miller.

 “KiwiRail’s role is to ensure the SH1 and main trunk rail connection between the North and South Islands stays open, and Valentine will provide us with the ability to make sure that happens during the busiest period of the year for NZers taking summer holidays.

 “Unfortunately, Kaiarahi requires major repairs to its gearbox after its sudden failure, and those repairs are expected to take at least until March.

“Our remaining two Interislander ferries, Aratere and Kaitaki cannot serve the market alone during that period, because that would leave NZ’s supply chain vulnerable and under capacity pressure.

 “The inter-island connection is vital for our customers so we have been working hard to secure a replacement ferry. We looked at 26 vessels around the world, then shortlisted six for more detailed assessment. The Valentine was the best option available right now.”

The Valentine will operate as a freight-only ferry to free up space for passengers and their vehicles on the other ferries during the summer holiday season.

Miller says the Interislander fleet is ageing and more prone to breakdown.

 “Old ships tend to have mechanical problems and this has been highlighted with the current mechanical issues on Aratere. While she has now resumed service, we know that disruption is bad for us and our customers. 

“Valentine will help mitigate the impact on freight movements across the Cook Strait, in the event of any further unexpected mechanical disruptions.

“Valentine is being leased for an initial 12 months. It has been working in the English Channel and is well-suited to KiwiRail operations.”

In July 2021 KiwiRail announced it had signed a contract for two new  significantly larger and more efficient ferries to be built by Korean shipyard Hyundai Mipo Dockyard. The first is scheduled to arrive in 2025 and the second in 2026.  


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