Aratere ferry back sailing after ferry terminal repairs following Kaikoura quake

The Aratere ferry is back on the water and able to transport passengers across the Cook Strait after the Wellington link ...
SCOTT HAMMOND/FAIRFAX NZ

The Aratere ferry is back on the water and able to transport passengers across the Cook Strait after the Wellington link span was repaired by CentrePort.

KiwiRail's InterIslander ferry Aratere will resume sailing the Cook Strait after the Wellington ferry terminal link span was repaired. 

The link span, used to move vehicles on and off a ferry, was damaged during the M7.8 Kaikoura quake. 

The Interislander ferry car ramp sustained damage in the quake.
ROBERT KITCHIN/FAIRFAX NZ

The Interislander ferry car ramp sustained damage in the quake.

Interislander operations manager Mark Thompson said in a press release that the repairs came ahead of schedule, but another link span, that allows rail freight to be loaded, still needed to be fixed. 

The first sailing will be freight-only and is scheduled to leave Wellington at 6am tomorrow with the first passenger sailing at 5.45pm from Wellington. 

READ MORE: 
Quake help for Wellington

* Container traffic to resume at Wellington's CentrePort
* Extensive damage to Wellington port
* Cook Strait 'lemon' ferry out of action again

KiwiRail chief executive Peter Reidy said the repair was an important next step to improve movement of freight and passengers across the Cook Strait.

"We now have all three of our ferries back on Cook Strait which is a real boost to our freight customers and to tourists and visitors heading to and from Picton," Reidy said. 

"The Aratere is returning ahead of what we had planned for. We expect rail freight will be able to be loaded next week."

The Aratere could hold up to 600 passengers, and those affected when the ferry was berthed had been re-booked on other ships, a KiwiRail spokesman said. 

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