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Interislander ferry Arahura leaves for Singapore soon for a $9 million refit.

She leaves service on Sunday, before returning at the end of August when she will be able to carry more commercial vehicles and rail freight, Interislander said today.

The work would include changes to the lower decks and reduction of some upper deck accommodation, allowing the ferry to continue to carry passengers beyond 2011, Interislander group general manager Seamus O'Sullivan said.

"The increased numbers of commercial vehicle drivers will be catered for with new dining, rest and sleeping facilities. Drivers will also enjoy more truck turning space and a wider entrance and exit."

Crew quarters would be improved, while passengers will have a new cinema and bar cafeteria.

The Arahura will get the latest safety chute evacuation system and life rafts and a new fast rescue boat and mesh covered rescue platform which could come to the aid of others.

"All crew will be fully employed during the refit, with staff rotation between the remaining two vessels allowing for high levels of training and development of skills," Mr O'Sullivan said.

"We have timed the refit to coincide with our winter off peak.

"The slightly reduced timetable can easily be accommodated by our other two ferries and the new and improved Arahura will be back with us well before the next tourist season."

- NZPA