Ministry: Speeding up Hiiumaa-mainland ferry line could be considered
Hiiumaa municipality government sent an application to the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications, pointing out the need for a third ferry on the Rohuküla-Heltermaa route next summer. The ministry responded and said they cannot make any promises, but an assessment into making the ferry line faster can be conducted.
In July this year, crossings from the mainland to Hiiumaa with vehicles was up 13 percent. Compared to two years ago, crossings with vehicles went up 20 percent. The number of passengers also grew in the summer, ETV's daily affairs show "Aktuaalne kaamera" reported on Sunday.
"Ferries are on a maximum schedule in the summer period now, there cannot be anything added to the day. It would be possible to put some for very early mornings or late nights, but that is not what the client wants," said Hiiumaa deputy municipality mayor Hergo Tasuja said.
Previous Hiiumaa city council director Aivar Viidik said the island municipality requires an additional ferry to cover for any issues with main ferries, but also for the increased volume of travel due to domestic tourism and construction work in Hiiumaa.
But there are other reasons. "There have been many people that have so-called second homes and move from the mainland to Hiiumaa often. They also have guests," Viidik said.
Economic affairs ministry maritime economy undersecretary Kaupo Läänerand said the cost of one trip for the main ferries is €2,600 and would increase to €8,000 per trip for an additional ship and crew. The ministry will look at budgetary options, but there can be no promises.
If it is not possible for the existing ferries to operate faster, the long-term view could be to make the ferry line faster, Läänerand said. "The economic affairs ministry is currently looking at options to improve natural circumstances - extending the existing channels to 120 m and 6 m deep. If we find these options, it would be possible to significantly increase the number of trips," the deputy mayor said.
Läänerand could not say if and when this could be done. There are no financial resources considered yet and it is more of a plan for the future. "We could look for options from European Union funding to strengthen regional areas," he said.
The state decided in summer to acquire a new ferry which would be suitable for travel between the mainland and both Saaremaa and Hiiumaa. The ferry should be completed by the end of 2024.
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Editor: Kristjan Kallaste