North Sea ferry plans scuppered

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Efforts to revive a ferry service between Bergen and Stavanger on Norway’s west coast and Newcastle in the UK have run out of steam. The 130-year-old service ended in 2008, but despite working since 2012 to have a new route up and running by April, Norwegian Seaways revealed on Wednesday they have not secured enough funding for the project.

PHOTO: newsinenglish.no

Ferry services operate from Oslo to Denmark and Germany, but plans to revive a route from Norway’s west coast to Newcastle in England have run out of steam. Norwegian Seaways needs a further NOK 50 million to make the project a reality. PHOTO: newsinenglish.no

Norwegian Seaways is a newly established company which has worked for two years to secure investors for the project, reported Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK). The British government was among the supporters. Just a few months ago the company promoted big plans for a 200-metre-long fast ferry with space for up to 300 cars and 800 passengers, a casino, bars, health spa and nightclub on board.

The vessel was meant to be ready by the spring of 2014, but in January Norwegian Seaways admitted it would not be possible this year. On Wednesday the company said it may not be possible at all because it has only secured half of the start-up costs, which total NOK 100 million (USD 16.7 million).

“There have been considerable efforts in Stavanger, Bergen and England to get this is place,” said Norwegian Seaways spokesman Hans Runshaug. “The last two to three months we’ve been in a holding position. We’re working voluntarily, and there is a limit how much you can put into that. We have come halfway, and the rest of the finance is essential to complete and get underway with the project. It is only financing that we need to go further.”

“We have received a bigger response in Stavanger on the investment side than in Bergen,” said Runshaug. “Everyone we talk to wants the route, but from there to people investing is a much bigger step.” He said it’s hard to speculate on the probability of the ferry service actually becoming a reality. “But we have now financed half, so we can maybe say that there is a 50 percent probability.”

“It would be fantastic if we got this in place,” said Runshaug. “I know it is possible to run it profitably, and it would do that with the right cost structure.”

newsinenglish.no/Emily Woodgate