M/S Baltic Princess has arrived in Turku. A steady line of trucks and passenger cars rolls out of the ship to the quay. The vehicles on the way to Sweden will have to wait a little longer on their own lanes before they can enter the ship.
Johan Nilsdorff, Cargo Operation Supervisor at Tallink Silja tells that passenger car traffic began to use the same outdoor area as cargo transports in April 2021.
“Both passenger cars and cargo now drive in through the same crossing to Kuljetuskatu street, and then they are guided with signs to their own lanes. All outbound traffic also goes via Kuljetuskatu.”
Previously trucks used Kuljetuskatu street and passenger cars drove via Satamakatu street.
”The current system is more compact and clearer. It may also decrease the traffic volumes around the Turku Castle and the through traffic in the city-centre in general.”
Concentrating cargo and passenger cars in the same outdoor area is part of the NextGen Link project with the EU’s CEF funding, one of the goals of which is to improve the transports of passengers and cargo between Finland and Sweden.
Solving a big puzzle
Mr Nilsdorff says that filling a car ferry is like solving a big puzzle.
“Trucks and passenger cars are compiled to their own lanes. Trucks, for example, are sorted by length. Cars are then fed in according to the wishes presented by the ship.”
The changes implemented in April meant new challenges to the personnel for solving the puzzle, as the total area became smaller and the number of lanes decreased.
“It took a while to get used to at first, but now it’s working fine. The change was probably not too visible to the passengers.”
Or to put it in football terms: on the field everything is going in accordance with the new game plan and the ball is moving swiftly.
Winter does not come as a surprise
As part of the project, new tarmac has been laid and the surface has been levelled. There are also new guidance signs.
“The ramp leading to the ship has now a gentler sloping. That’s good, because earlier, especially in winter conditions, it was sometimes hard for the trucks to enter the ship.”
Apropos the winter conditions. We are enjoying that right now, as a strange mix of water, sleet and hail begins to fall down from the sky.
“Well, the outdoor staff is prepared for everything. We have e.g. ‘boosters’ and extra batteries to get frozen cars moving.”
Preparing for the future
Mr Nilsdorff points out that the now implemented changes in Tallink Silja’s outdoor area are just an intermediate stage or preparing for what is to come.
“In the future, a joint terminal will be built for the passenger traffic in the port, and the area will become even more compact. The importance of well-functioning traffic arrangements will be further emphasised”, he reminds.
Text: Matti Välimäki
Photos: Ilari Välimäki