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New Ferry Service Arrives in Southern Chile

Here at H2, we constantly focus on how owners and managers of transportation can “connect the dots” in intermodal transportation systems. When these successes occur, we enjoy the opportunity to celebrate with both the managers of these systems and the public they serve.

The southern regions of Chile are filled with islands and fjords, with few connecting roads. Driving between the areas shown requires crossing into Argentina.

In January, 2017, it was announced that a new privatized ferry route would be implemented between Puerto Yungay and Puerto Natales. This covers a route of approximately 770 kilometers per direction (415 nautical miles). This move will unite in about 41 hours of navigation the regions of Aysén and Magallanes, in the southern Patagonian region of Chile.

Non-Chilenos may be surprised to learn that until the creation of this government-subsidized ferry route, it was not possible to drive from the north of the country to its southern tip, without a detour along Argentina’s Highway 3. This required a border crossing. The only other option to connect the two regions without leaving the country was via air. Chile’s coast is mountainous and features many island formations and deep fjords.

The nation of Chile is adding a long distance ferry route that will serve its Patagonian regions.

 

Thus, this route fulfills an old Chilean desire to unite transportation links within its own national territory. It will also enhance connectivity between the towns of Caleta Tortel and Yungay in the Region of Aysén and gives Chilenos and the many tourists that travel to the region a direct connection to Puerto Eden and Puerto Natales in the Magallanes region.

The privatized service will move both vehicles and passengers, which in total benefits 4,500 residents of these localities and other sectors of the Region of Aysén as Cochrane and Villa O’Higgins. In between, the two endpoints, the ferry will also stop at Caleta Tortel and Puerto Eden.

The ferry makes 2.5 trips per month between March-December of freight and passengers, plus 0.5 journeys south-north the last week of each month, only for dangerous cargo (fuel). In high season between December and February, travel will increase to one weekly, with the last 0.5 trip of each month for the transport of dangerous cargo (fuel) in a south-north direction. Also budgeted: the possibility of making eight additional trips in the year on an as-needed basis.

For this purpose, an annual subsidy of CLP$2,376 million (about USD$3.6 million) was authorized through the resources provided by the Chilean government’s Special Plan for the Development of Extreme Zones (PEDZE). This provides a ferry with a minimum capacity of approximately 100 passengers and 165 linear meters of load.

The ferry will be passenger-friendly, equipped with reclining seats at 140 degrees, armrests and feet support and a service tray. Light restaurant fare will be available for purchase as well.

(For more information in Spanish, see:

http://www.radiopresidenteibanez.cl/web/sistema-de-buses-de-transporte-publico-de-punta-arenas/.

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