Interislander ferry sailings cancelled again

KiwiRail says it is too soon to say when the crippled Interislander ferry Aratere will be back in action.

The Interislander operator had hoped the ferry would be back in service this morning after a computer issue affecting the propulsion system forced the cancellation of all sailings yesterday, delaying the travel plans of about 650 people.

But spokeswoman Sophie Lee said sailings of the Aratere had been cancelled again today while technicians continued to examine the issue.

"We're still confident it's an issue with the control system, which has in turn affected the propulsion system. They are still examining the issue."

Ms Lee said it was too soon to say whether the ferry would be sailing again tomorrow.

About 650 passengers affected by yesterday's cancellations were accommodated on other sailings, and similar arrangements had been put in place today.

The cancelled passenger services today were the 10.30am sailing from Picton, the 2.30pm sailing from Wellington and the 6.30pm sailing from Picton.

Passengers were transferred to the 8.25am Kaitaki sailing from Wellington, the 1.10pm return sailing from Picton, the 6.25pm Arahura sailing from Wellington, and the 10.25pm sailing from Picton.

Scheduled freight services at 10.30pm and 2.30am have also been cancelled. The 9pm Kaitaki sailing from Wellington will carry affected freight.

Ms Lee yesterday said the issue was not related to the Aratere's recent $54 million revamp, nor the ship's engine problems which put a stop to passenger sailings for more than a week in 2011.

The Aratere is one of three Interislander ferries operated by KiwiRail.

- Matthew Backhouse of APNZ

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