The new ferries will be the first New Zealand has introduced to the Interislander fleet in over 25 years
New Zealand operator KiwiRail has issued a request for proposal (RFP) to find a preferred shipyard to build two new-generation Interislander ferries.
The Interislander ferries are extensions of New Zealand’s State Highway 1 and the Main Trunk Line across the Cook Strait, linking road and rail networks between the North and South Islands. The current fleet of three ferries transports 800,000 passengers and up to NZ$14 billion worth of road and travel freight between the North and South islands each year.
“The new ships will strengthen and enhance the vital transport link between the North and South Islands and represent a once-in-a-generation opportunity to transform the Cook Strait crossing,” said Greg Miller, group chief executive at KiwiRail. “It is exciting to issue this RFP, to move the project forward and to find a shipyard to partner with KiwiRail to deliver the ships to our specifications, quality and timeline requirements.”
KiwiRail was allocated NZ$400 million in its 2020 budget for the project, allowing the operator to issue an international tender to build the new ships. The ferries are intended to enter service in 2024 and 2025, when they will become the first purpose-built ferries New Zealand has introduced to its fleet in over 25 years. Port infrastructure will also be improved in the town of Picton and New Zealand’s capital, Wellington, including new terminals, linkspans and marshalling yards.
“On behalf of New Zealanders, we are grateful to the government for enabling this acquisition,” said Miller. “Our new ferries and the associated port infrastructure will provide greater resilience for this crucial link that unites our country and will serve New Zealand for the next generation and beyond.”
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