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Ferries in the Far East do not wait

To the two and a half operating ferry lines in the Far East, it is possible to add silent new ones in the near future - only two. And then - will they add - depends more on the Chinese side

Ferries in the Far East do not wait
At the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok, many guests from Asia (from the number of new arrivals) noted the sudden proximity of the Russian territory to their countries. "It's just a whole hour and a half or two hours - and we are in Russia," they said. "It's closer than Singapore!" Closer than Taipei! It's amazing how close we are to each other! "

It would seem an obvious fact - enough elementary knowledge of the world map to realize this closeness. But the reality is that many neighbors, as it turns out, do not even look at this part of the map. This is evidenced by real communication between such regions close to each other - the South of the Far East, Japan and South Korea.

For a conditional comparison: the population of Corsica - the island region of France, located in the Mediterranean Sea - 322 thousand people. The population of Sakhalin is over 500 thousand people. The distance between Ajaccio and Marseille is roughly comparable to the distance between Vanino and Kholmsk. Vanino - Kholmsk even shorter - percent on 30. Corsica is connected by daily ferry lines with at least three ports of the south of France: Toulon, Marseille and Nice. And also with Genoa, Livorno, Naples and other Italian ports. Ferries go strictly on schedule, loading and unloading in the port takes exactly 1 hour, buy tickets and register online. Today Sakhalin has two regular lines. Vanino-Kholmsk is a link to mainland Russia. There are three ferries on the line, there are no long-term departure schedules, as there are no even the most primitive online functions. 

Pump can be further. Thus, the Georg Ots ferry arrived in Vladivostok in the 2010 year (albeit with completely different goals, but still) operated as a hotel at the APEC Summit in the 2012 year, and after being unclaimed, it was scrapped in China as a result of fraud. The situation is no better in the air - Vladivostok and Tokyo connect the entire 3 flight a week. This is about 450 seats per week. Khabarovsk and Tokyo - 2 flight. That is about 300 seats per week. Seoul and Tokyo have 280 flights per week, i.e. 42 000 flights. Busan to Tokyo - over 40 flights per week, i.e. 6 000 seats.

In general, there are currently three cargo-passenger sea ferry lines in the Russian Far East: Vanino - Kholmsk (between the Khabarovsk Territory and the Sakhalin Region), Korsakov - Wakkanai (between the Sakhalin Region and the Japanese island of Hokkaido), Vladivostok - Donhe (South Korea) - Sakaiminato (Japan) - Donghe (South Korea) - Vladivostok. 

Ferry crossing Vanino - Kholmsk provides more than 75% of all freight traffic and about 25% of passenger traffic (on average, over 60 passengers are transported along the line during the year) between Sakhalin Island and the mainland of the Russian Federation. The length of the line is 000 nautical miles. Today, there are three Project 140 ferries operating on the Vanino - Kholmsk railway ferry line: Sakhalin-1809 (built in 8), Sakhalin-1985 (9). Based on the service life (1986 years), these ferries should be decommissioned as soon as possible.

Ferry crossing Korsakov - Wakkanai is 43 km long. It was opened in 1923, there was a break in its work - in 1945-1998, after which it resumed its operation - the motor ship "Ains Soya" of the Japanese company Heartland Ferry made about 30 flights on it from June to September, carrying passengers up to until 2015. This was followed by a break in the operation of the ferry again - until August 2016, due to the fact that its route turned out to be unprofitable. From August of this year to the present, the catamaran "Penguin-33" runs along this crossing. True, this is no longer a full-fledged ferry crossing - only passengers and small loads are carried on the catamaran.

Ferry crossing Vladivostok - Donghe (South Korea) - Sakaiminato (Japan) - Donhe - Vladivostok started its work in early July 2009. The final decision on its functioning was made as a result of a personal agreement between the former governor of Primorye Sergei Darkin and the governors of the Japanese prefecture of Tottori and the South Korean province of Kangwon. The cruising of her ferry "Eastern Dream" (South Korean production, built in 1993), as can be seen from the route, is carried out between three countries - Russia, South Korea and Japan. In turn, it is focused on the transportation of general cargo and servicing passengers and tourists. Its capacity is 500 people, 66 cars and 130 containers with a length of 140 m, a width of 20 m.The ferry has cabins of three classes and two royal cabins, there is also a nightclub, men's and women's saunas, a business center, a shop. duty-free trade. It is noteworthy that since the time the ferry began its work, both residents of Primorye and foreigners use it to the same extent. Moreover, in order to avoid problems with loading the ferry, a working group has been created from representatives of the transport departments of Russia, Japan and Korea on the issue of loading it. There is no data on how much this ferry is in demand today. But it is known that during the first year of work he enjoyed the greatest popularity among young people (people under 30). Apparently, even a small saving is important for them, since the price of the ferry is slightly less than the price of an air ticket to Korea and Japan. And in principle, we can say that, unlike most other countries, the cost of a ticket for the Eastern Dream ferry is high. But, despite this, nevertheless, it can be assumed that, just like in the first year, or even more, the ferry was popular among young people even further, since in May-June 2011 the ferry underwent cosmetic repairs, after which the Korean side raised prices for the carriage of passengers (she did not inform anyone about the reasons for this), while the ferry has only 38 cabins with beds. Of which - one 12-seater, thirteen 8-seater, one 6-seater, sixteen 4-seater, seven 2-seater. The rest of the cabins, one of which can accommodate one hundred people, offer floor-to-floor accommodation.

This completes the list of operating lines. There are lines that operated earlier, and also announced for the future. So, for example, a ferry Sokcho - Zarubino started working in 2000, and after several years, Vladivostok also began to call her ferry. But at the end of 2010, the ship "Dong Chun Ferry" working at the crossing ran aground and damaged the propellers, after which it was not transported until the end of March 2013. The ferry resumed its operation on two routes at once: once a week on the Sokcho - Vladivostok route, twice a week on the route Sokcho - Zarubino (Hunchun). But after the resumption of the ferry, the ferry did not last long - its traffic was again interrupted in 2014-th year. And until it is started again - it is only announced that the launch of the ferry will take place this fall.

There are a lot of such announcements - according to recent statements by the governor of Kangwon province, there are nine routes in total, the ferry traffic along which could provide sea traffic between four states - Russia, China, South Korea and Japan. By the way, the sea line (Hunchun) Zarubino - Sokcho with a total length of 585 km is the shortest sea route connecting Northeast China, the Russian Far East and the east coast of the Republic of Korea. It is called the "golden corridor" for water transport between the three countries. This route partly falls on the Primorye-2 ITC (traffic between the city of Hunchun and the port of Zarubino is carried out by rail or road).

Another announcement - ferry Niigata - Vladivostok, Providing for transportation of both cargo and passengers - this is an obvious enough route. Nevertheless, the line does not work and is unlikely to work in the near future. The initiator is a Japanese company "International sea transportation of Niigata". The announced cost of transportation is quite high: the cheapest ferry ticket will cost $ 300. At the same time, it is possible that rather large volumes of cargo will be transported along it - according to the Representative of the Department of Governor's Policy of Niigata Prefecture Maeda Toshiji, Russian businessmen operating in the prefecture are looking forward to the opening of a regular ferry service to start transporting cars and components from the closest Japanese port of Niigata to Primorye. At present, the Japanese operator is looking for a suitable vessel - it is assumed that it will be a used cargo-passenger vessel with a displacement of about 10 thousand tons, designed for 350 passengers. Part of the necessary funds will be allocated from the Niigata prefectural budget. This refers to the financial participation in the project from the Niigata Municipality and local business community. In turn, the authorities of Primorye are quite calm about the project and, we can say that they treat it even with some degree of caution - in one of his speeches last year, First Vice Governor of Primorsky Territory Vasily Usoltsev noted that it is necessary to calculate all the risks and even stated that the regional authorities themselves would not deal with the project, but only connect to it if the local business was engaged in it.

Another route, sounded in the media, but not yet received a continuation - a ferry Vladivostok - Busan - Shanghai - Nagasaki - Vladivostok. The company was going to enter this line (and, possibly, with calls to Sakhalin and Tianjin) in 2017 St.Peter Line, Known for its ferry routes on the Baltic Sea. At present the company is still looking for a ferry for the route, as one of the options at the first stage, one of the ferries from the Baltic will be relocated to the Sea of ​​Japan. As another option - to purchase a vessel with the capacity of 2300 passengers and 70 autotrailers. Whether the ferry is completely new or already in operation is still being determined. But, at the same time, it will be quite young enough - along with other Chinese requirements, the Chinese side demands that the age of the ferry be no more than 15 years. And it is noteworthy that the acquired ferry is planned to adapt to the needs of the Asian region - thus, it seems that it will be more focused on transportation from Asia. In general, it is planned to spend about 200 million euro, some of which will be compensated by the Chinese state. In turn, all for the launch of the ferry is planned to invest 250 million dollars. 

The editors of EastRussia asked the experts whether it was worth waiting for the appearance of any new sea ferries in the Far East. And for her, it was a bit surprising that none of the experts surveyed expressed confidence and made clear predictions about the appearance of new regular ferry lines in the Sea of ​​Japan that would link Vladivostok with Korean and Japanese cities. 

According to the director of the Institute of Transport Economics and Transport Policy of the National Research University "Higher School of Economics" Mikhail Blinkin, in fact, the sea ferry is nothing more than a floating bridge providing for the crossing of small distances by large flows. Including combined, in which passengers predominate. And also those where the passenger is a figure that is not independent, but moved along with his car. And the ferry is a whole series of products, not just one option. This is transport, and trade, and tourism.

“At the same time, the normal functioning of the ferry business can provide just passenger demand - a very high passenger demand. As for the demand on the part of shippers and any other - this is already additional income for the sea ferry crossing. Accordingly, in order for it to be so successful that it plays its role in regular traffic, and would also indirectly affect the economy of a particular region, it is simply necessary to have adequate passenger demand, " Mikhail Blinkin.

According to the expert, there is a certain hope that in some perspective a certain demand may emerge, and not from the side not of Russian, but of foreign passengers. So, perhaps, it will be noticeable on the line of Korsakov - Wakkanai.

At the same time, the growing tourist interest in some Far Eastern regions can still induce the appearance of new ferry lines linking the shores of the Sea of ​​Japan. 

"At present, foreigners' interest in tourism in the Far East has increased. In the future, it can grow even more. Because demand - and demand from residents of Northeast Asian countries is not an exception - it usually generates not just a sentence, but an excessive supply. And in this case it is investments from the state in the development of tourism, including coastal and port infrastructure in the Far East, some of which, in particular, are already provided for by federal programs - those whose implementation period is 2017. Following the increased interest on the part of foreigners, some marine ferry traffic will also develop in the Far East, "the associate professor of the Department of Recreational Geography and Tourism of the Faculty of Geography of Moscow State University named after MV Lomonosov Natalia Shabalina.

At the same time, a number of experts note today that the high cost of building ferries themselves is a deterrent to the development of sea ferry crossings in the Far East. And it not only hinders the development, but also prevents the normal operation of already existing marine ferries in this macroregion.

“The sea crossing Vanino-Kholmsk is especially in need of new ferries, since the ferries manufactured by the Yantar plant used there are already on the verge of the end of their service life. And, despite the urgent need, the renewal of the ferries of this crossing is now greatly complicated by the fact that the funds included in the FTP are not enough. The situation, however, is not critical, since the missing funds are actively sought today, including by the Ministry of Transport. Probably, there are attempts to collect funds for this purpose directly from the region itself - the Sakhalin Oblast. It should be noted that the current situation is not at all surprising - since the construction of a ferry is definitely not a cheap story. For example, for the construction of the same two ferries, more than 6 billion rubles are needed ", - said the interlocutor of EastRussia.

At the same time, he expressed confidence that the new ferries for the Vanino-Kholmsk crossing will be built, and she herself is properly restored. He also noted that it is theoretically possible the emergence of a number of new sea ferry crossings in the Far East, including some international ones - in particular, thanks to investors attracted by the TOR and Free ports created today in the Far East. But not today or tomorrow.
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