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Partners in the TrAM (Transport – Advanced and Modular) project have announced that construction of the world’s first fully electric passenger fast ferry has begun at the Fjellstrand shipyard in Norway.

The catamaran will be equipped with two electric motors and a 1.5MWh capacity battery with charging power of more than 2MW making it, according to the TrAM project, the world’s first fully electric and zero-emission fast ferry classed in accordance with the International Code of Safety for High-Speed Crafts (HSC Code).

As the TrAM project’s demonstrator vessel, it will begin a trial passenger service between the Norwegian city of Stavanger and surrounding communities and islands in spring 2022 to test and validate the project findings.

The vessel, which will be able to carry around 150 passengers, has been designed for a service speed of 23 knots and has been named Medstraum, literally ‘with electricity’ and ‘co-current’ in Norwegian.

In addition to its zero-emission credentials, the project partners have also highlighted the vessel’s modularised design approach. Using advanced modularisation, the project aims to lower production costs and engineering hours for electric fast ferries by 25% and 70%, respectively, which is expected to significantly enhance their competitiveness.

The TrAM project was initiated by industry cluster organisation NCE Maritime CleanTech and is being coordinated by Kolumbus, the independent mobility services arm of Rogaland County Council.

‘TrAM’s overall aim is to develop new modular methods for the design and production of zero-emission fast ferries for inshore passenger transport, in order to reduce investment costs and delivery time,’ said project manager Mikal Dahle of Kolumbus.

The zero-emission aspect is the main driver for Kolumbus as part of its ongoing efforts to reduce the footprint of its public transport assets. Rogaland County Council has committed €6.8 million in co-funding for the vessel. ‘Rogaland County Council has a strategy to drastically lower emissions for all ferry routes. The TrAM project showcases what is possible for future public transport – with no noise or emissions to the environment,’ said Rogaland County mayor Marianne Chesak.

As previously reported, the TrAM project scope also includes the development of two further ‘replicator’ vessels, one for passenger operations on the River Thames in London and the other for deployment on inland waterways in Belgium.

The project, which started in 2018, has secured €11.7 million in financing from the European Union’s Horizon2020 research and innovation programme - said to be one of the largest amounts ever awarded to a single project. It has also received funding for dissemination activities from the Research Council of Norway.