New Zealand transport operator KiwiRail has contracted the Isle of Man Ship Registry to oversee construction of two rail-enabled ropax ferries that will connect New Zealand’s North and South Islands.
KiwiRail has ordered the new vessels to modernise its ferry fleet serving the Cook Strait, connecting capital Wellington on North Island and Picton on South Island.
The Interislander service carries around 850,000 pax, 250,000 cars and up to NZ$14 bill worth of freight annually.
Last year, KiwiRail issued an Expression of Interest to international shipbuilding yards. The selection of a shipyard is due to be completed in the next few months.
Ahead of this, KiwiRail has appointed the Isle of Man Ship Registry as the newbuilding flag state. The registry will appoint and work in partnership with KiwiRail’s chosen class society, overseeing the build process once a shipyard has been confirmed.
The two 220 m ropaxes, which are being designed by OSK-ShipTech, will each be capable of carrying about 1,900 pax and a capacity for about 3,600 lane metres, allowing them to transport a combination of vehicles, including up to 40 x 60ft rail wagons.
The ferries will also lead to the building of new ferry berths, terminals and both rail and road connections. They are targeted to enter service in the mid-2020s, replacing the existing three-vessel Interislander fleet.
They will be of diesel-electric hybrid power, with diesel generators and batteries providing electrical power for azimuth thruster propulsion systems.