Ferry line to link Kaliningrad and St.Petersburg

A cargo-passenger ferry line between Baltiisk (a port in the Kaliningrad region, Russia's enclave on the Baltic sea) and St.Petersburg will come into service in early 2003, said Russian deputy transport minister Nikolai Negodov on Wednesday.

Ferry service will become possible thanks to the construction of a berth in the town of Baltiisk, the main base of the Russian Baltic fleet.

The project will be the job of the company Baltic Transport Systems, cargo carriage operator between Kaliningrad and St.Petersburg. Investors have pledged before the end of this year to prepare hydrotechnical facilities and launch a trial run, said the deputy minister.

In preliminary estimate, the ferry line will cost ten million dollars. It will be round-the-year operation and will cut by eight hours the time of travel between the Kaliningrad region and St.Petersburg.

Now only cargo carriage is under way in this direction. It is yet too early to talk about the volume of future cargo and passenger haulage, said Negodov. In the future it is planned to build in the Vostochny settlement a port structure for motor and railway ferry communication. In his opinion, the project will resolve the problem of communication between the Kaliningrad region and mainland Russia. It will be crucial after the entry of Poland and Lithuania into the European union next year. Nikolai Negodov calls it one of the alternative versions of resolving the "Kaliningrad problem".