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PRESS RELEASE: State secretary Heijnen (Infrastructure & Water Management) approves 2024 Transport Plan

5 October 2023

Wagenborg Passagiersdiensten: “Continued safe passage in the Ameland–Holwerd and Lauwersoog-Schiermonnikoog channels in 2024; current timetable will remain unchanged next year.”

The Hague/Nes, Thursday 5 October 2023 – State secretary Heijnen of the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management has approved the 2024 Transport Plan submitted by Wagenborg Passagiersdiensten. She informed the Dutch House of Representatives about this decision in a letter today. This also means that WPD will continue to operate a 1 1/4-hour service between Ameland and Holwerd next year, deploying a second ferry, when the water level is less than –1.30 m below NAP. This minimum water level was –1.00 m below NAP.

With the approval of the state secretary, the current adjusted timetable, as applicable until December this year, will continue to be in force next year. This applies to both the regular ferry service and the Fast Ferry, and also for the service Lauwersoog–Schiermonnikoog. For Ameland, this means that one ferry will sail six times per day, both from the mainland and from the island. The second ferry will be used up to four times per day.

The measures introduced by Wagenborg earlier this year, to guarantee a safe crossing, will be continued in 2024, as Wagenborg continues to have concerns about the safety of the channel in the near future.

Wagenborg Passagiersdiensten: “The current 1 1/4-hour service gives peace of mind and is clear to everyone. This service and the measures taken by Rijkswaterstaat (Department of Public Works) in the channel mean that the ferries can pass each other safely,” according to WPD director Ger van Langen. Depending on the water level, one ferry will be stationary while the other one passes. If the water level is sufficient, both ferries can pass each other while moving. The passing zones realised recently will be assessed by the Department of Public Works at least twice a month.

From Tuesday 1 January 2024, WPD will introduce foot passenger, bicycle and motor bike reservations
Starting from next year, WPD will introduce foot passenger, bicycle and motor bike reservations for the ferry service. This offers passengers a better service and ensures them a place on board. “Our advice is to make a reservation for the desired sailing in advance. This ensures you will have a seat on board. The system with reservations for foot passengers works really well for the Fast Ferry. It gives more security and freedom of travel, while it allows us as a shipping company to optimally plan the deployment of our vessels,” according to Ger van Langen. “Changing and cancelling sailings, if necessary, is also very easy. The reservation system will have a positive effect on the accessibility of Ameland.”

No reservation requirement for islanders
There is no reservation requirement for residents of the islands. There will always be a number of reserved seats for foot passengers living on the islands on the ferries to and from the mainland.

Rate increase
The state secretary approved the proposed rate indexation of 8.9% included in the Transport Plan. This increase is in accordance with the rate level set by the Ministry that also applies to the other Wadden Sea ferry services. 

Continued concerns about the channel
Wagenborg will continue working on a new transport concept next year. The aim is to grant an architecture firm a concrete assignment to create a vision of the future of the fleet. The user requirements submitted will be the starting point. 

Wagenborg continues to have concerns about the safety of the channel for the time to come. Because the channel constantly silts up, the width and depth of the channel are limited, meaning safe crossings are not always possible under all circumstances, as evidenced by the recent MARIN report. Large sections of the channel are not safe, and that will not change in the future.

For Wagenborg, this was reason to introduce the current improved and adjusted timetable. This timetable and the deployment of a second ferry became possible thanks to the realisation by the Department of Public Works of passing zones and the placement of boys. The Department of Public Works is currently carrying out measurements outside the channel, to closely monitor developments.

*** End of press release ***

Read 2024 Transport Plan (Dutch only)