Inland navigation has a lot of potential in the Baltic Sea Region, even though the geographical and administrative conditions for inland navigation differ from country to country. This was highlighted by the panel that debated the future of inland navigation in Sweden as part of the 7th Strategy Forum for the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region (EUSBSR).
The Strategy Forum was organised in Stockholm recently and attracted more than 1200 participants. The panel was organised by Interreg Baltic Sea Region project EMMA, which aims to enhance inland navigation in the Baltic Sea Region.
Panellists stressed that inland water transport is cost-efficient, safe and environmentally friendly compared to truck and train transport. “Less than one third of energy is needed when carrying goods by vessel. It is a public task to support inland navigation,” said Birgitta Schäfer from the German Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure.
While road and rail infrastructure in some parts of the Baltic Sea Region is overloaded, moving cargo from road to waterways reduces traffic jams and accidents. “There is definitely potential for inland navigation in Sweden,” said Johan Lantz, CEO of Avatar Logistics. In Sweden the main challenges include icing and pilot regulations as well as costs of pilotage.
"In Sweden there is a growing interest in inland navigation as well as good political engagement. Inland water transport should be competitive, and it can make a difference if we handle obstacles and recognize the Swedish prerequisites. We can learn from EMMA pilot projects that are going on”, added Stefan Engdahl, Head of Planning at the Swedish Transport Administration.
“Development takes time and therefore each step should be taken into the right direction," stated Hans van der Werf, former General Secretary of the Central Commission for the Navigation of the Rhine. "Organising transhipment is one of the issues that should be paid attention to. There are huge volumes that might be transported by inland barges and with all available information, means and technology such as river information systems we should overcome the problems.”
There are 21 EMMA partners from Sweden, Germany, Finland, Lithuania and Poland. The project manager is Gunnar Platz, CEO of PLANCO Consulting, and the lead partner is Port of Hamburg Marketing.