Freight not affected by ferry times

21:51, Jul 20 2014

Cook Strait ferry Aratere's new schedule will not affect freight coming in and out of Marlborough, the ferry operator says.

The troubled ferry returned to service last week after undergoing drydock repairs in Singapore. The ferry had been out of action since November 5 last year when it lost its starboard propeller just outside Tory Channel on a sailing from Picton to Wellington.

KiwiRail spokesman Michael Flyger said Aratere's workload had been reduced from three to two return crossings a day because it had not been sailing quickly enough with its newly fitted, smaller propellers. They are the originals fitted when it was built in Spain in 1999.

He said freight would not be affected, as timetabling adjustments had guaranteed the same freight capacity across the strait.

"The main daily rail freight from Auckland to Christchurch and back again, will still be transported on the Aratere in the afternoon and back again at night," Flyger said.

Aratere would be leaving Wellington for Picton at 2pm and 11.20pm on weekdays and sailing from Picton to Wellington would be at 6.40pm and 4am.

The extra freight capacity would be transferred to the Kaitaki and Arahura ferries, Flyger said. Foot passengers would not be affected, except for the timetable changes.

Destination Marlborough general manager Tracy Johnston said she believed the Interislander would more than manage the winter passenger demand.


The Marlborough Express