New Zealand to build two new future-proof ferries for Cook Strait

New Zealand state-owned enterprise KiwiRail has issued a request for proposals to find a preferred shipyard to build the two new rail-enabled roll-on/roll-off passenger (RoPax) ferries for the operator Interislander.

OSK Group

As explained, this is the next step in the procurement process and a central move towards realising the two newbuildings.

When entering into service in 2024 and 2025, the new ferries will replace the existing fleet of three ships, and at that time it will be more than 25 years since New Zealand last introduced purpose-build ferries completely tailored to future operations and local circumstances.

In close cooperation with KiwiRail, Danish naval architects and ship designers OSK-ShipTech have developed the concept for the two new rail-enabled ferries, which will be able to carry twice the number of passengers, nearly double the number of trucks and other vehicles as well as a 300-percent increase in rail wagons compared to the existing vessels.

Specifically, the 220-metre-long ferries will have a service speed of 20 knots and a gross tonnage of 50,000 tonnes. They will also have a passenger capacity for 1,910 people, a cargo/freight capacity for 42 rail wagons + 62 trucks + 170 cars and a cargo capacity/passenger vehicles for 652 cars.

According to Anders Ørgård, Chief Commercial Officer of OSK-ShipTech, “central for the design is maximum fuel efficiency and minimum emissions of CO2”.

“Aside from being able to run on batteries at times, the new ferries will be future-proof and adaptable to new fuel sources continuously and as they become available,” he added.

When the ships are completed, New Zealand commuters and tourists will experience a significant strengthening of the infrastructure and service between capital Wellington on the North Island and Picton on the South Island.

As part of the project, new terminals tailored to the vessels will also be developed in order to optimise the infrastructure and fully benefit of the new designs.