By Chris King •
Updated: 27 Oct 2023 • 20:22
Image of the Salicórnia electric ferry in Portugal.
Credit: YouTube Aveiro Camara Municipal
PORTUGAL’S first-ever 100 per cent electric ferryboat, which will connect São Jacinto and Forte da Barra, in Aveiro, will come into operation in December.
A christening ceremony for the vessel with €7.3 million of investment was held this Thursday, October 26, at the Navaltagus shipyard, in Seixal.
Salicórnia’s eventual departure to Aveiro – located to the south of the city of Porto – will depend on the weather and sea conditions.
Ribau Esteves, the mayor of Aveiro, informed ECO/Local Online that the only work still to be completed was the installation of the boat’s charging system.
‘The Salicórnia is the first electric ferryboat manufactured in Portugal and by a Portuguese company’, he highlighted, although he pointed out that some of its components were manufactured in other countries.
As a result of this latest project, Aveiro positions itself at a national and international level in the environmental, social and economic dimension.
‘We will have an environmental gain – 300 tons of CO2 will no longer be emitted -, maintain the public transport service with municipal participation, and we will have another territorial marketing instrument because it is an innovative episode’, explained Esteves.
After undergoing sea trials, the ‘Salicórnia’ ferry will sail from the shipyards of Navaltagus – part of the ETE group – to Aveiro, where it will join the regular AveiroBus operation.
Esteves assured that from the first half of December, the vessel will increase its transport capacity to 260 passengers and 19 vehicles, an increase of 90 per cent and 30 per cent, respectively. Added to this are low noise levels and comfort for passengers.
‘Inspectors came from all over the world. The ferryboat passed all sea tests and has all the necessary requirements to sail to Aveiro’, insisted the clearly proud mayor.
The first key moment was baptism: ‘a very important act in navigation. Obviously it is important for the council, which is the owner of the work, but for the construction company, which is Portuguese, it is a moment to signal that the ship is ready’, he added.
Ribau Esteves also highlighted the ‘relevant public service’ that the municipality is now making available to the population. This applies especially to those located in São Jacinto, who need this transport to cross the Aveiro Ria.
Aveiro Council has guaranteed that it will continue to support this service. Otherwise, the mayor stressed: ‘Tickets would be very expensive and the cost would be unaffordable for people’. This support costs the municipal coffers €500,000 annually, he calculated.
For now, the Council will maintain the current price charged on the ‘old’ ferryboat , which will now be replaced. ‘We will carry out a cost analysis in the first months of operation to confirm whether we will have the reduction in operating costs that is indicated in the project’, explained Esteves.
‘Once this reduction is confirmed’, the next step will be to reflect this same reduction in operating costs in the tariff to be applied, guaranteed the mayor.
The contract for the charging systems for the operation of the new electric ferry was awarded to the group of companies made up of Ahlers Lindley and ETG – Empresa de Gestão e Transporte S.A. which tendered a price of €1,329,697. It should be completed by the end of November.
In addition to the ferry, Aveiro will integrate ten new electric buses into its current fleet this year. ‘We are finishing the electrical charging system for our cruisers that take tourist tours on the city’s canals. Later this year we will make the system available for operators to start installing electric motors’, concluded the mayor.
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Originally from Wales, Chris spent years on the Costa del Sol before moving to the Algarve where he is a web reporter for The Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news.
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