8 Nov 2014

Mayor calls for urgent review of ferry

9:44 am on 8 November 2014

The mayor of Marlborough is calling for the Government to carry out an urgent review of the beleaguered Cook Strait ferry service.

Aerial view of Interislander 'Arahura' off coast of Pencarrow Head and Baring Head, Wellington Harbour

Marlborough mayor Alistair Sowman says disruptions to the Cook Strait ferry service are undermining tourism. Photo: PHOTO NZ

Alistair Sowman said the breakdown of the Interislander vessel Arahura in Wellington this week was the final straw in what he called a long-running saga of breakdowns and patch-ups.

Crossings on the Arahura were cancelled over the last two days after a faulty electronic card left it powerless and stranded in Wellington Harbour on Thursday.

Earlier this year, another Interislander vessel, Aratere, was sent to Singapore for repairs after a propeller broke.

Mr Sowman said the problems with the Arahura could not have come at a worse time, with one of the region's biggest events, Garden Marlborough, on for four days.

He said the disruptions were undermining tourism and were a continuing source of concern for the South Island economy.

Mr Sowman said he would be writing to Transport Minister Simon Bridges about his concerns.

KiwiRail defends ferry service record

KiwiRail is standing by the record of its Cook Strait Ferry service, and said the fault that took the Arahura out of service was extremely rare.

It said the Interislander ran about 4500 ferry services a year and occasionally operational disruptions occurred.

KiwiRail's acting chief executive, David Walsh, said generally KiwiRail still provided high quality service.

"Over a long-term view, the Interislander provides a very good connection between both islands and we're working very hard to make sure that continues at a very high level of consistency."

The Arahura was scheduled to resume normal sailings today.

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