SWEDEN-ESTONIA FERRY SERVICE GAINS PASSENGERS

SWEDEN-ESTONIA FERRY SERVICE GAINS PASSENGERS

After a very weak start for the service, passengers are gradually using the new ferry between Stockholm and Tallinn that replaced the Estonia, the ship that capsized in the Baltic Sea a year ago with the loss of nearly 1,000 lives.

Nordstrom & Thulin, the Swedish shipping company that jointly operated the Estonia with the Estonian Shipping Co., said there were 77,000 passengers in the first half of the year. This compares with 168,000 in the same period of 1994, before the disaster. The volume of cargo carried by the replacement ship was about the same as last year.Soon after the accident, Nordstrom & Thulin, which also operates tankers and bulk carriers, decided to withdraw from ferry operations. It subsequently reversed that decision.

Regular passenger service between the Swedish and Estonian capitals resumed last November, a few weeks after the accident, when the Mare Balticum was put into service, its bow doors welded permanently closed.

Although passengers were reluctant to use the ship at first, Nordstrom & Thulin said bookings gradually increased and the vessel has been practically full during the summer, although the operation still runs at a loss.