Norway-England ferry ‘could make a comeback’

Passengers might soon be able to travel by ferry between Norway and England for the first time in three years, if reported plans by a group of 'shipping heavyweights' come to fruition.

Norway-England ferry 'could make a comeback'
Photo: Bjorn Erik Pedersen

The route, between Bergen and Newcastle, is being planned by a group including publicly listed companies, according to Bergen newspaper

The consortium, which is so far not talking publicly about its plans, reportedly intends to launch the service next year. Ole Warberg, Managing Director of Visit Bergen, told The Local that he was aware that talks were underway, but injected a note of caution:


"It's very premature to be talking about the route coming back," he said, adding that the information relating to the new consortium was sensitive and that he didn't want to jeopardize the plans.


"I have been in contact with five or six companies interested in setting up the route since 2008, including two different consortiums in the past two months. Some of those who have been in contact with me have big plans but small money, some have small plans but big money."


Tourism officials on both sides of the North Sea say a new ferry line would provide an economic boost:


"From our perspective it would be great. It's important not only for tourism, but also for business and freight," Kim Lovlie, at the Oslo office of official British tourism promoter Visit Britain, told The Local.


"There are plenty of destination companies in the UK looking to promote Norway, and a lot of tourists in Norway who want to take a car over and visit the UK. A ferry would also have an impact on the trade links between Norway and the UK, as freight on vans currently has to come via Europe," Lovlie said.


DFDS Seaways scrapped its Bergen-Newcastle service in 2008, blaming higher oil prices and the economic downturn. 


The axing of the route is estimated by local officials to have cost the western Norwegian tourism industry 90,000 guest nights in 2009. Officials in the Newcastle region said before the route was closed that it would cost the local economy £10 million a year. 


A report in 2010 from accountants PWC said that relaunching the route could be profitable if smaller, more fuel-efficient ships were used.


Politicians and business groups in Norway and the UK have been lobbying for the route to be relaunched ever since:


"We are not aware of any concrete plans, but we have always said that we would be very happy to see a new link between Newcastle and Bergen." said Sarah Stewart, chief executive of tourism promotion agency NewcastleGateshead Initiative.


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Norwegian city announces plan to stop naming streets after men

The city council in Bergen has proposed that streets, squares and municipal buildings no longer be named after men apart from in "very special cases". The plan has provoked opposition in some quarters.

Norwegian city announces plan to stop naming streets after men
Bergen harbour. Photo by Miguel Ángel Sanz on Unsplash

The council will take a final vote on the proposal next week.

Katrine Nødtvedt, City Councillor for Culture, Diversity and Gender Equality in Bergen, said that the drastic proposal was needed to get a message across.

“Previously you would work on the basis that you would choose a female name if you could think of anybody suitable. Instead, we should be actively working to correct the gender balance,” she told newspaper VG.

According to the city council’s website, the change in naming conventions is a part of “Project Female Name”, which will look at street names and women’s history.

The city councillor believes the proposal should get the go-ahead.

“There has long been a political majority in Bergen to promote women and name more streets and public places after women,” Nødtvedt told Dagbladet newspaper.

READ ALSO: Travel: Norway extends restrictions into May 

In 2018, the city council in Bergen decided that the municipality should increase the number of places number after women. There were 229 streets in Bergen named after people at the time, of which 28 were female names while 201 were male names.

“When you see that it is the result after 950 years of Bergen’s history, I think many understand that drastic measures are needed,” Nødtvedt said.

She also explained that the city wouldn’t be closing the door on naming places after men altogether.

“At the same time, we allow for very special cases where there are men who has a special connection to a place in the city, and then we will be able to assess it,” the councillor said.

However, the plan has provoked a strong backlash in some quarters.

“Decisions that force equality at street name level, I think is just sad and a little pathetic,” the former mayor of Bergen, Trude Drevland, told VG.

“If we are to succeed in achieving gender equality, then it won’t be measured by 50/50 names of streets and places on the back of a forced decision,” she added.