MOSCOW, April 30 (RIA Novosti) – The Kerch Strait Ferry Line, linking southern Russia’s Krasnodar region with Crimea, will stop freight services May 1 in an effort to triple the capacity for passengers, the United Transport Directorate of Russia said Wednesday.
“Since the beginning of the tourist season from May 1, the ferry line Port Caucasus to Port Crimea will be redirected only for passenger transportation services in an effort to increase the traffic capacity from 2,000 to 6,000 people a day,” the directorate said in a statement.
Freight shippers will be able to use an alternative route to Crimea through the port city of Novorossiysk to the Crimean resort town of Feodosia, which opened on Tuesday.
The directorate said the new freight ferry Poseidon Express, operating the route between Novorossiysk and the sea commercial port in Feodosia, can house nearly 120 heavy transporters. The trip lasts for 9 hours.
The German-built ferry, which is able to carry 81 passengers and 17 crew members, has 34 cabins making it convenient for drivers to rest during the trip, the statement said.
Crimean Tourism Minister Yelena Yurchenko said earlier this month Russia’s newest region of Crimea was ready to receive six million tourists this year.
Crimea, previously an autonomous republic within Ukraine, refused to recognize the legitimacy of the government in Kiev which seized power as a result of a coup in February, instead rejoining Russia following a referendum on the issue.
Late last month, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev proposed a sweeping development program to improve the lives of Crimea’s residents, ranging from revamping the region’s healthcare and education systems to boosting its ailing economy.