All aboard

Much has changed since we last featured Norwegian ferry operator Bastø Fosen within the pages of Land, Sea & Air back in 2012. In that year the company, a wholly owned subsidiary of Torghatten ASA that was founded in 1995 and operates the ferry route between the towns of Moss and Horten, saw 1.7 million vehicles and 3.4 million passengers travel with it, making it the country’s busiest inland ferry link. In the time since we last shone a spotlight on the business it has also seen Øyvind Lund appointed as Managing Director, a role that he took on in August 2014.

“In the year that I came into the business The Norwegian Public Roads Administration was also in the process of setting out the tender process for the contract to operate the Moss-Horten route for the ten new years from January 2017,” Øyvind explains. Therefore, much of our focus during my first few months in the role was on putting us into a position to secure this contract, and at the end of 2014, Bastø Fosen was confirmed as the winning bid for that tenyear contract.”

A key requirement of this new contract was the specification that the operator would need to have no fewer than six available ferries available, and that each should be able to accommodate a minimum of 200 vehicles (PBU). The company already had three such vessels in operation, Bastø I and Bastø II which were built in 1996, and each have a capacity of 200 vehicles and 550 passengers, and Bastø III which has a capacity of 212 vehicles and 540 passengers, and was built in 2005.

“Having won the new contract for the Moss-Horten route, we then set about entering into a partnership with the Cemre Shipyard and Sefine Shipyard in Turkey for the construction of three new vessels,” Øyvind states. “Over the course of the next two years, extensive work was carried out to complete the Bastø IV, V and VI which has capacity for 201 vehicles and 600 passengers. These new vessels are all singledeck ferries, which allows for more efficient load and unload times, and gives us greater capacity to accommodate larger trailers and other units.”

In the first year of the new ten-year contract for the Moss-Horten line taking effect, the company saw an increase in usage with 1.8 million vehicles and 3.6 million passengers. In July 2017, the company also experienced a record month in terms of usage with 220,000 cars using its services during the peak summer season. “2017 was certainly a positive year for us with our new ferries, which are operating 19 hours a day all year round, handling approximately 73 per cent of all departures and receiving extremely good feedback from our passengers, and this pattern has continued into 2018,” Øyvind continues.

When designing and building Bastø Fosen’s new ferries much consideration was taken to meet the strict environmental standards held by Norway, and indeed Europe as a whole. “For our new build vessels, we incorporated the use of a new engine design made by GE in the United States, which has helped us to deliver considerable emission reductions, including a reduction in NOx emissions of approximately 80 per cent,” Øyvind details. “We also took this one step further by having new GE engines built into our older ferries.”

The new ferries were also created with an entirely new hull shape, one that has contributed to a reduction in fuel consumption of between 25 per cent and 30 per cent per trip, a figure that is all the more impressive considering these new ferries are larger in size. “The environmental demands on new vessels is something that will only continue to grow in importance, and we know that the requirements when the next ten-year contract rolls around for 2027 will be different to those of today,” Øyvind adds. “It is for this reason that we have designed our new vessels to accommodate efficient rebuilds in the event of needing to incorporate battery technology or any other future technical developments.”

In developing technology for the future of ferries, Bastø Fosen has entered into collaboration with Kongsberg Maritime to create a system for automating the crossing between Moss and Horten, and for moving ferries to and from the quay. The system, which is due for testing by autumn 2018, is designed to increase safety and improve the passenger experience, and further reduce fuel consumption. Work between the two companies has focused on integrating a system that supports navigators with improved situational awareness and decision making, while automating arrival and departure movements based on factors such as traffic volumes and weather conditions. In the longer term, the companies also plan to explore solutions for automatic interaction between vessels, with the idea being that this technology will allow Bastø Fosen’s vessels to ‘learn’ from each other.

The customer experience naturally has to be heart of everything that a company like Bastø Fosen does, and in striving to deliver a more streamlined, comfortable and efficient service the company initiated its AutoPASS chip payment solution in January 2017. “AutoPASS was created to create a seamless system that allows for passengers to embark our ferries in their cars with the minimum amount of effort required,” Øyvind says. The system charges passengers correctly based on the size of their vehicles.

The introduction of the three new ferries has also played a massive part in improving the regularity of Bastø Fosen’s ferry services. “In 2014, we recorded a reliability figure of 98 per cent, which equates to the cancellation or delay of between 600 and 700 departures that year. In comparison, for the first seven months of 2018 we achieved a figure of 99.9 per cent, which means that out of some 20,000 departures in that time we had to cancel as few as 20, so this is a massive improvement,” Øyvind enthuses.

Core concerns such as the comfort, safety and security of the company’s passengers and crew will of course always be at the forefront of its activities, as will objectives such as making further improvements to reliability, fuel consumption and logistics. However, as Øyvind goes on to conclude, his thoughts also regularly turn to the longerterm future of Bastø Fosen and of the Moss-Horten route. “We are hugely proud of the progress that we have made in the last few years, however we know that for all that we have achieved there will be much more improvement needed when 2027 and the next ten-year operating contract rolls around. For that reason, we will continue to work towards achieving continuous improvements that will ensure the future success of Bastø Fosen and the long-term happiness of the thousands of passengers that use our services.”

Bastø Fosen AS
Operators of the Moss-Horten ferry route
3.6 million passengers in 2017
A 99.9 per cent reliability rate to date in 2018