Tallinna Sadam ferry operating subsidiary TS Laevad and the Road Administration (Maanteeamet) have signed a cooperation agreement for additional voyages and the acquisition of a new vessel.
As an increase in demand on the Virtsu-Kuivastu and Rohuküla-Heltermaa is expected in the years to come, TS Laevad and the Road Administration have signed an annex to the public service contract, the object of which is performing an additional 500 trips per year from June 1 to September 30, 2026, Tallinna Sadam announced on Monday.
As undertaking this amount of additional trips is impossible during high season with the existing fleet, it is necessary to buy another ship.
According to the agreement, the Road Administration will order additional trips in 2020-2022, performed by M/S Regula or other vacant ferries on the condition that an additional ferry could temporarily be secured for the high season. In 2023-2026, additional voyages will be carried out by the new ferry to be bought.
The Road Administration has the option to refuse ordering additional trips if the parties do not reach an agreement on service charges, for example if the possible cost of the new vessel turns out to be too high.
The total length of a suitable ferry is up to 114 meters, its draft about 3.5 meters, capacity some 300 passengers and 110-120 passenger cars or eight semi-trailer trucks 19 meters in length.
Last September, the National Audit Office (Riigikontroll) analyzed the cost of maintaining the ferry connection with Estonia's two largest islands, Saaremaa and Hiiumaa and found an increase in volume of passengers and vehicles using the services, under the current, 10-year, contract which began in 2016. However this has cost the state more than expected.
Ferry connections to the two islands have cost the state more and more each year, rising from around €11.40 per vehicle carried in 2007, to €18.30 in 2018, a rise of over 50 percent, the audit office said then.
Editor: Anders Nõmm