PS Helvetie Moved to Geneva

Supporting the preservation and operation of paddle steamers Waverley and Kingswear Castle

PS Helvetie Moved to Geneva

The Lake Geneva diesel electric paddler Helvetie was towed from Lausanne to Geneva by the Leman on 7th November 2022 to free up a berth in the Ouchy shipyard for the newly built Navibus which is nearing completion in the yard.

After relatively little use in the previous decade, and in need of a major rebuild, Helevtie was withdrawn from service in 2002. Since then she has lain in the Ouchy shipyard for most of the time although she did find a temporary new life as a static Museum Ship moored outside the Olympic Museum at Lausanne in 2012 and 2013.

The new Navibus has been built in the covered drydock at Ouchy in partnership with the Lucerne based shipbuilder Shiptec and is scheduled to enter service on the CGN’s ferry services connecting Switzerland and France in the New Year offering a high level of passenger comfort while significantly reducing the environmental impact.

60.4m LOA and with a speed of up to 20 knots, the new Navibus (pictured right in the yard at Ouchy 12th December) is powered by low consumption hybrid diesel electric propulsion which will be technologically compatible with an energy transition to hydrogen at some stage in the future.

Designed to accommodate 700 passengers, with 600 inside seats, and equipped with a “Silent Area”, the new vessel also has a lift to all decks, panoramic windows throughout, 4 outdoor terraces and automatic gangways. The cost is expected to be CHF 30,000,000 including the initial project and study costs all financed by the CGN. 50% of her operating costs will be funded by the French authorities with the remaining 26.5% from the Swiss Canton Vaud and 23.5% from the Confederation.

We should not take Helevtie’s move to Geneva as a negative sign for her future with the CGN publicly declaring their intention to rebuild her for a return to service by 2030.

And the CGN retains a very positive attitude towards its Belle Epoque fleet of eight paddlers on Lake Geneva. PS Vevey was completely rebuilt 2012/13, Italie 2015/16 and Rhone 2019/22. And the newly rebuilt Rhone (pictured 11th December A/S Ouchy), with her unusual steam engine with its pressurised lubricating system, has been in service each Sunday this autumn and on into winter running the lunch cruise away from Lausanne at 12.30pm to Villeneuve calling at Pully, Lutry, Cully, Vevey, Villeneuve, Chateau Chillon and Montreux along the way returning just before 4pm. Winter paddling at its very best.