FRS takes over Elbe ferry in Glückstadt
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Flensburg shipping company now operates one of the most important transport connections in northern Germany – and hopes for clarity on the project of a new Elbe tunnel.
Dhe Flensburg shipping company FRS has taken over the Elbe ferry, which commutes between Glückstadt in Schleswig-Holstein and Wischhafen in Lower Saxony. It is an important transport link in northern Germany because there is no other way for cars and trucks to cross the Lower Elbe in regular traffic between the Elbe Tunnel in Hamburg and the German Bight. Every year the Elbe ferry transports around 600,000 vehicles with four ships and around 50 employees.
The previous operator of the Elbe ferry is, like FRS, a family-run company. “We are very pleased to have found a family-run group of companies in FRS that will continue the Elbe ferry with the same values in the interests of the shareholders,” said the previous managing director and co-owner Hildegard Both-Walberg.
FRS – emerged from the companies Förde Reederei and Seetouristik – is hardly known outside of Flensburg, unlike its local subsidiary. With more than 2000 employees and around 60 ships, FRS operates ferry lines and tourist ships in twelve countries, from Canada to Oman. According to its own information, FRS currently transports a total of around 7.6 million passengers and 2.1 million vehicles annually.
The best known in Germany is the tourist catamaran “Halunder Jet” from FRS Helgoline, which sails between Hamburg and the North Sea island of Helgoland and which this year was reinforced by the catamaran “San Gwann”. The ferry line between the Danish island of Rømø and List on Sylt is also part of FRS. In Hamburg, FRS operated the tourist ferry “Kleine Freiheit” between the port and Blankenese for a while until this spring.
The Elbe ferry between Wischhafen and Glückstadt is “a solid company that is in good shape,” said FRS manager Birte Dettmers WELT. She now also runs the ferry connection on the Elbe as managing director, together with Tim Kunstmann. Both already operate the Rømø-Sylt-Ferry and FRS Helgoline together.
An important factor for FRS and the future of the ferry connection is whether and when the long-planned Elbe tunnel between Glückstadt and Wischhafen will be realized. “We believe in the ferry connection across the Elbe and want to invest there,” said Dettmers. “Whether the Elbe Tunnel will actually be completed in nine years, as the state government currently expects, we will leave it as it is. Of course we would like planning security on this topic. “
A tunnel through the Elbe west of Hamburg has been planned for decades – to better connect the coastal states of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Schleswig-Holstein and Lower Saxony with the A20 motorway and to relieve the greater Hamburg area, especially with heavy goods traffic. Environmental groups like Nabu and BUND want to prevent the project by political and legal means. The Greens in Schleswig-Holstein have long politically opposed an extension of the A20 to the Elbe and the tunnel project.
The crossing of the Elbe between Hamburg and the North Sea with vehicles remains a difficult undertaking – and only possible between Glückstadt and Wischhafen. The establishment of a ferry connection between Cuxhaven and Brunsbüttel had failed several times in recent years, although there was now a ship operation there, especially for trucks and tourist buses. But that turned out to be economically unsustainable.