Marlborough Express - The Saturday Express, Marlborough
German engines for new ferries
Interislander’s Cook Strait ferries are the quintessential image of a Kiwi summer, but under the hood it will soon be German engineering.
KiwiRail, which owns the ferry service, has selected German multinational MAN Energy Solutions to supply the main generator engines for two new hybrid-electric vessels, set to arrive from 2025.
The Inter-island Resilient Connection (iReX) programme is a $1.45 billion investment, including the two new ferries and the construction of two new terminals in Picton and Wellington.
iReX ships programme manager Massimo Soprano said this particular engine – the MAN 32/44CR four-stroke – had ‘‘proven itself over approximately 3 million hours of operating experience’’.
‘‘Manufactured in Germany, these engines are highly efficient and will support KiwiRail’s goal of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.’’
Even better, the German company already had a team based in New Zealand that could provide local service support and maintenance – ‘‘a big advantage to our operation in ensuring a resilient service’’.
Interislander is running only one ship, with the others taken out for repairs, prolonged by supply chain issues – and maintenance.
The new ferries, the first in 20 years, are being built by Hyundai Mipo Dockyard in South Korea and are set to be more efficient.
KiwiRail’s goal is to reduce carbon emissions by 30% by 2030 and be carbon-neutral by 2050.
MAN Energy Solutions head of marine four-stroke Asia Pacific Elvis Ettenhofer said each ship would be powered by four engines.
‘‘These engines feature our common rail injection system, well-known for its flexibility, low levels of noise and vibration, and reduced smoke during engine start and operation, which are all important features for passenger ferries,’’ he said. In October, a report blamed the Cook Strait ferries for high levels of harmful gas in the Picton harbour which residents had been complaining about for years.