With a NZD 400 Million contribution to the 2020 Budget, state-owned KiwiRail is now able to go out to international tender to build two new future-proof ships and modernising their fleet. In close cooperation with KiwiRail’s team, Danish naval architects OSK-ShipTech A/S have developed the concept for the two new ferries.

KiwiRail's newbuilding project of two rail-enabled ferries for New Zealand's Cook Strait is on track

On Thursday 28 May, KiwiRail issued a request for proposal to find a preferred shipyard to build the two new rail-enabled RoPax ferries for the operator Interislander. 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. When completed, New Zealand commuters and tourists will experience a significant strengthening of the infrastructure and service between capitol Wellington on the North Island and Picton on the South Island.

“We can’t stress how happy we are to have entered into this collaboration with KiwiRail, which underlines the market position of OSK-ShipTech globally, our wide expertise in passenger ferry design as well as many years’ experience in designing for both private owners and state-owned operators,” says Anders Ørgård, Chief Commercial Officer of OSK-ShipTech.

He continues: “Central for the design is maximum fuel efficiency and minimum emissions of CO2, and 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. We are really excited about this forward-looking project and collaboration on the continued development for KiwiRail in the region.”

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. 

Technical details

  • Length: 220m
  • Service speed: 20 knots
  • Gross tonnage: 50,000T
  • Passenger capacity: 1910 pax
  • Cargo capacity, freight: 42 rail wagons + 62 trucks + 170 cars
  • Cargo capacity, passenger vehicles: 652 cars (cars only)

Source: OSK ShipTech