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Interisland Line leases freight ship

By Graeme Kennedy

Thursday 24th April 2003

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Tranz Rail's Interisland Line has leased a 6500-tonne pure freight vessel to meet growing cargo demand across Cook Strait in the first stage of a restructuring programme designed to cut lease costs by more than $5 million a year.

And the future of the Lynx vehicle and passenger fast ferry is in doubt after its current lease expires in three weeks as the line negotiates with its owners, In Cat, and two European ship providers about the future of the service.

Interisland Group general manager Thomas Davis said the rollon-rolloff freighter, the Purbeck, left the UK for New Zealand this week after operating on the English Channel and was expected to start Wellington-Picton services after a name change in mid-June.

The ship, jointly owned by Brittany Ferries and Channel Islands Ship Management, would make two return crossings a day.

Mr Davis said the charter was part of Interisland's strategic plan to better match capacity to demand while the fleet needed adjustment to meet customer requirements.

"We have relied on the Lynx to assist with the conveyance of freight but with Purbeck our tonnage potential will increase yet at the same time reduce our lease costs," Mr Davis said.

"Purbeck is not a brand-new custom-made ship and this is reflected in its lease and operating costs, which are significantly less than the Lynx's."

The next stage was to rationalise the vehicle and passenger services to suit seasonal demand which fell sharply during winter.

The company was looking at several options, including providing Lynx or another fast-ferry service only during summer and other peak periods.

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