Gotland ferry services may be nationalized

Ferry services to the Baltic island of Gotland may be nationalized before the end of the year, according to the government, with residents long asking for further state subsidies for their link to the mainland.

Gotland ferry services may be nationalized

The Swedish state will run the route unless an alternative is found and have invited interested parties to submit their bids before October.

“We don’t want to lose valuable time in case there is someone from the outside who wants to drive the traffic,” Minister for Infrastructure Catharina Elmsäter-Svärd told the press.

Interested bidders who want to take charge of the Gotland ferry service from 2017 have until October 28th to submit their application. If a suitable bid is not found or agreed upon, then the Swedish Transport Administration (Trafikverket) will report to the government on December 23rd with proposals for the purchase of ships and where they should be located.

It is estimated that the state contributes around 420 million kronor to the ferry service to Gotland each year. During peak season there are 16 departures a day from mainland Sweden to Gotland with 1.4million passengers making the journey each year.

Residents on the Baltic islands took to the streets of Visby last summer to protest the hike in ticket prices to come over from the Swedish mainland, arguing that the ferries were their public transport system and needed to be subsidized.

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Grounded Finland ferry refloated and heading back to port

UPDATE: A ferry that ran aground next to islands between Finland and Sweden with nearly 430 crew and passengers on board, was refloated and heading for port, its owners said Sunday.

Grounded Finland ferry refloated and heading back to port
The Viking Line ship Grace hit rocks in in the Aland archipelago. Photo AFP

The Viking Line's “Grace” hit rocks on Saturday afternoon while sailing between the Finnish port of Turku and the Swedish capital Stockholm, shortly before a stopover in Mariehamn, in the Aland archipelago, Finland's coast guard said.

The passengers had to spend the night on board, though there was no immediate danger as it was not taking on water. No one was hurt in the incident.

A tug boat helped refloat the ferry in the small hours of Sunday morning, the coast guard said on Twitter.

After disembarking around 260 passengers at Mariehamn, it went on to its home port of Turku in Finland, a Viking Line spokeswoman told AFP Sunday. It would undergo repairs in the coming days, she added.

Although the cause of the accident has yet to be established, the coast guard said there were strong winds in the area at the time.

The company cancelled its Saturday ferry service, which was to have been taken by a smaller vessel, because of a storm warning.

In September, another Viking Line ferry, the Amorella, ran aground on the same Aaland Island and the passengers had to be evacuated.