STORY Commercial Marine

Commuting Swedish style

Posted on August 03, 2015 by Nina Felicitas Kunzi, Images by Nina Felicitas Kunzi

The Stockholm Archipelago is favourite holiday destination. mtu powered ferries provide the transport.
Stockholm, Schweden

The Stockholm Archipelago, a vast collection of larger and smaller islands, is a place of refuge and relaxation for jaded city dwellers and a favourite holiday destination for tourists. The transport links between the islands and the Stockholm city centre are provided by the ferry companies Strömma and Waxholmsbolaget. Many of the ferries rely on high-speed mtu engines in their daily work. They make sure that children from the smaller islands get to school on time, island supermarkets get their fresh food deliveries and back-packers can explore the unique landscape.

The skärgården, as it is known in Swedish, lies to the east of Stockholm. It consists of around 30,000 islands stretching over an area of 1,200 km².

Dalarö, Stavsnäs, Grinda, Nacka or Utö might sound like furniture items from IKEA to people from outside Sweden. But rather than three-piece suites or bath-mats they refer to individual members of a vast patchwork of islands known as the Stockholm Archipelago. The skärgården, as it is known in Swedish, lies to the east of Stockholm. It consists of around 30,000 islands stretching over an area of 1,200 km², which is roughly equivalent to the size of London. They were created roughly 10,000 years ago when the massive ice formations melted at the end of the last Ice Age, allowing rock outcrops to emerge from the sea as islands. Today the large and small islands provide a space for people to live in or escape to as well as forming a picturesque backdrop to the city of Stockholm.

The ferry companies of Stockholm carry islanders, second-home owners and tourists from April to December to errands to the local authority, to visit the family or to explore a unique landscape.

Ferry companies rely on mtu

Some of the islands spread over many square kilometres, are profusely planted with greenery and interlinked by bridges for easy access by car. They offer plenty of space for the inhabitants of Stockholm who prefer a life in the countryside in a timber dwelling to the bustle of the city. Others are smaller, sparsely vegetated rocky landscapes rising out of the sea with just enough ground to accommodate six of the typical red-and-white wooden houses. Their inhabitants are reliant on water transport – either by their own boats or taking the quickest route by high-speed ferries operated by the public transport system. Many of the lightweight ferries rely on mtu engines in their daily work. They carry islanders to the city on errands to the local authority, help Stockholm's second-home owners escape to the islands at weekends and in the summer enable tourists to explore a unique landscape surrounded by sea, sky and seagulls.

Henry Ericson is service manager at Swed Motor, the distributor of mtu. He takes care that potential engine problems will be fixed quickly.

mtu engines in service in the archipelago for 25 years

The Cinderella I operated by the ferry company Strömma celebrated her 25th birthday on 17 April, 2015. And along with her, the two 12-cylinder mtu Series 396 engines that have been in service in the Stockholm Archipelago as long as the Cinderella I. "Our Cinderella I carries roughly 10,000 passengers a year. Her normal route takes about five and a half hours. In the summer months, we do that round twice a day. By now, the ship has travelled 21 times around the world, you could say," relates John Berlin, ship's captain and operator of the restaurant on the Cinderella I. The 1,150 kW mtu engines have powered the ferry from the very beginning and have now clocked up over 50,000 hours of duty. In their 25 years of service they have twice been completely overhauled and re-installed in the Cinderella I in as-new condition. "We had no problems carrying out the eight-week overhauls in the winter months when the ship is not in service because of the ice in the Stockholm Archipelago," explains Henry Ericson, who works as a service manager at Swed Motor, the distributor for mtu engines in Sweden.

The reliable mtu engines are in service since 25 years in the archipelago of Stockholm.

A reliable partner

Swed Motor has been responsible for distribution, commissioning and maintenance of mtu engines for all applications in Sweden since 2000. Together with its sister companies, MGAB Maskinoch Fartygsservice and Ahmans Motorslip, Swed Motor provides the ideal service for Stockholm's ferry operators. Swed Motor is a specialist service provider in the field of engine technology, Ahmans Motorslip is responsible for complete engine overhauls, and Maskin och Fartygsservice AB supplies every conceivable spare part from its favourable location right on Stockholm harbour. "The ferry services depend on the reliable operation of their ships in order to ensure the smooth running of the business," explains Swed Motor's sales manager, Anders Olofsson. "If problems occur, it just takes one phone call and our one of our engineers is on the spot in no more than an hour – that is the key to our many years of successful working with our clients."

Alexander Kourib looks after the well-being of both the guests and the crew of the Waxholmsbolaget ferries.

mtu propulsion systems meet every requirement

Seven of the 20 vessels operated by ferry company Waxholmsbolaget also depend on mtu propulsion systems to do their daily duties. "When the ferry Vaxö was refitted with new engines at the end of 2008, we opted for 12V2000M61 mtu engines for the first time because they are known for their reliability and can run on Swedish Class 1 diesel. They also comply with respectively undermatch the emission requirements, and excellent service is guaranteed with the mtu distributor Swed Motor," recounts former technical director of Waxholmsbolaget, Indrek Pöldma, who now works as a technical consultant for the company. In all, there are now 25 mtu Series 60 and Series 2000 engines in service in the Waxholmsbolaget ferries Saxaren, Vaxö, Värmdö, Viberö, Vånö, Väddö and Skärgården. All of the ships are named after islands in the archipelago. The ferries are recognisable by their white livery with blue and yellow stripes. Providing respectively 350 and 600 kW of power, the mtu engines deliver the necessary potency to propel the craft quickly between the roughly 300 ferry stages in the Stockholm Archipelago. On some of the ferries they also provide the electricity for ship's services.

When the ferry Vaxö was refitted with new engines at the end of 2008, we opted for 12V2000M61 mtu engines for the first time because they are known for their reliability” Indrek Pöldma, former technical director of Waxholmsbolaget.

Indrek Pöldma - former technical director of Waxholmsbolaget

The ferries ensure the public transportation service between the islands and the city center of Stockholm

Ferries for all seasons

Waxholm is one of the archipelago's largest islands and home to around 5,000 people. The ferry fleet of the operator Waxholmsbolaget, which was established on the island in 1870, carries not only four million passengers a year but also 7,000 tonnes of goods and commodities. Whether it is fresh food for the island supermarkets, post for the islanders or timber for building new holiday homes, the Waxholmsbolaget ferries, and along with them the mtu engines, help to ensure that life on the islands does not resemble isolation.

Ber Fassbo works since ten years as caption on the Waxholmsbolaget ferries. Depending on time of day and distance he normally has four to five trips per day.

On the weekends Vera Wersen and André Sandström visit Vera’s parents on the small island of Skärmaräng. They use the time onboard to read or to enjoy a cool beer.

Time gain between cruise ships and sightseeing

On board the Värmdö on the way from Stockholm harbour to the Waxholm ferry point. The 37.7-metre ferry with a beam of 7.5 metres glides swiftly past four gigantic, ten-storey cruise ships bringing tourists from all over the world to the Swedish capital by day. In the evening, these gigantic vessels will leave the harbour for another coastal town. "It's obvious you have to keep well clear of the large cruise liners. It's the small private leisure boats that are more of a problem," says Ber Fossbo, a ferry captain with Waxholmsbolaget. In Sweden you can use a private vessel up to twelve metres in length without a licence. So for the ferries, extra caution is required in the summer months especially. As the Värmdö sails out of the city limits, Mats Karlströmer, one of the passengers tells, "We have a holiday home on Österåker. Between May and November I travel out once a week from my Stockholm apartment. And I spend the whole of July there." The ferry is now passing the imposing Royal Palace and Stockholm's historical old town on the right, and the garish Tivoli Gröna Lund amusement park with its classic roller-coasters on the left. He says there are ten weekend homes there, but nothing else. "I love the peace and quiet there." It takes him three hours to get to the island – first by public transport on the Waxholmsbolaget ferries, then the last little bit in his own boat. He uses the time on the ferry to work. For Mats Karlströmer it is a time gain.

Captain Hans Åden loves his profession. Every day he drives through the amazing landscape of Stockholm’s archipealigo.

Job satisfaction

The ferry Skärgården was fully refitted within the last twelve months. At the same time, Waxholmsbolaget decided to install four new mtu Series 60 engines. "The engines are very powerful and reliable units in day-to-day operation," says Captain Hans Åden, who has worked on Waxholmsbolaget ferries for ten years. Previously he was with the Swedish merchant navy and often away for months at a time. "Working here as a ferry captain in the Stockholm Archipelago is the perfect job for me. I get to travel through this unique landscape every day and still get home to my family virtually every evening," he enthuses. Depending on the route and departure times, the crew sometimes stays overnight in a small port on one of the islands and makes the journey back the next morning. In such cases, they make use of the comfortable crew accommodation on board. "I look after the passengers by day and the crew by night," jokes kiosk attendant Alexander Kourib. When the ship is in the Stockholm harbour being loaded with fresh supplies, his three-year-old daughter Michelle also joins in before Alexander finishes his shift. "It is never boring for her here," he laughs.

The engines are very powerful and reliable units in day-to-day operation,” Hans Åden, Captain on the Waxholmsbolaget ferries.

Captain Hans Åden
The ferry Cinderella I recently celebrated her 25th birthday. And along with her, the two mtu Series 396 engines that have been in likewise

Switching off the daily routine and relaxing

For permanent residents of the islands, the ferries are free. They are issued a season ticket every year and have unrestricted use of the ferry services operated by Strömma and Waxholmsbolaget. Vera Wersen's parents are a case in point. They recently took up permanent residence on the island of Skärmaräng. When Vera and her friend André Sandström visit them, as they often do at weekends, they use the time to relax. "I often go fishing. I find it is the best way to wind down from a stressful week," André Sandström explains. This weekend he caught a couple of fish. But he is not always so lucky. "Travelling to the island by ferry is the fastest and most comfortable way," believes Vera Wersen. "When the weather is good we can sunbathe on the deck and sip a cool beer – a great way to start the weekend!"

The passenger Mats Karlströmer owns a summer house on the island of Österåker. In the summertime he commutes there once a week.

What about winter?

In the winter months from mid-December to the beginning of April it can get very cold in Stockholm. Temperatures of minus 10 °C for weeks on end are nothing unusual. As the Stockholm Archipelago is frozen over in places with ice several decimetres thick, the only ships in service are the few ice-breaker ferries operated by Waxholmsbolaget. Permanent island-dwellers then have to switch over to bus services, private boats or helicopters. The ferry operators use this time of year to carry out major repairs or maintenance work on the ferries. "Or the ferry companies decide to repower their ships with new engines. And that is where we come into play – preferably together with mtu," sums up Anders Olofsson of Swed Motor with a smile.

Point of contact

Uwe Linz
+49 7541 90 4981

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