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Transportforum from a maritime viewpoint

13 January 2017

The 34th edition of Transportforum offered 94 different scientific sessions covering all modes of transport. For those interested in shipping, it was possible to devote almost the entire conference for the maritime sector.

Transportforum, arranged by VTI, Swedish National Road and Transport Research Institute, is the largest annual conference for the transport sector in Sweden and was first held in 1984. Eleven different committees, together with VTI, is responsible for the extensive conference program and this year Lighthouse has been chairman of the committee regarding shipping.

"Sweden, best in the world"
During the session on ship fuels, alternative fuels as LNG, methanol and electro fuels were presented. The company Eurofeeder talked about their investments in fossil-free biohybrid ships and Anna Petersson from the Swedish Transport Agency, concluded the session by saying that Sweden is the best in the world.

- There are so many amazing, innovative solutions that are under development and that contribute to the sustainable transformation of the maritime sector. Sweden was the first in the world ship-to-ship bunkering of LNG, the world's first methanol conversion with Stena Germanica and I'm glad we at the regulatory authority has been involved and help make this a reality, says Anna Petersson.

However, there are challenges to overcome, the maritime sector is unique, with different conditions, unique ships and international regulatory framework that takes a long time to influence. During the session, the participants called for a Swedish regulatory framework that treats all modes equally.

Twitter feed during Transportforum.

Opportunities for short sea shipping
When inland waterways were discussed, Björn Garberg from the Swedish Maritime Administration said that any transfer of goods from land to sea results in immediate effects on the land side, and that the potential for shipping to grow is primarily in short sea shipping between Sweden and ports in Europe. But as of today, there is no incentive for shippers to use the sea routes and if the ambition of moving goods from land to railway and sea shall be met, there is a need for clear strategies, action plans and a national coordinator. Björn Garberg also think that both port fees and fees for shipping lanes should be reviewed.

- The new shipping lane fees are in many cases negative for the short sea shipping, Björrn Garberg says.

Magnus Swahn from Zero Vision Tool presented the project ECA bonus. The project has compared the economic costs for transport of goods and concluded that it is more cost effective to use the sea route when transporting timber between Sweden and Spain.

Even Maria Mustonen from Luleå Technical University argued for increased investment in shipping. She has in the project Eco-loop studied the potential to transport excavated material at sea and noted that if no measures are taken, carbon dioxide emissions from transport of excavated material will increase by 35% between 2015 and 2025. Better use of shipping would provide both cost savings and reduced carbon dioxide emissions per tonne-kilomter she said.

Time to get busy
Overall, the shipping sessions during Transportforum showed a strong desire to move from words to action. And in the project DenCity action is happening. This spring they will test city distribution at sea in Gothenburg.

- Demonstrators generate interest among industry and academia. We must show that it works, says Martin Svanberg from SSPA, involved in Dencity.

The width of the session points during Transportforum shows that there is a lot going on in the maritime sector, and both speakers and audiences want to see that something is happening.

- We need to put everything we have done in to action, says Bjorn Garberg, Maritime Administration.

- A different mindset is required. Shipping is not included in the analyzes. You do not use the shipping potential, says MP Karin Svensson Smith.

- We must dare! What are we waiting for? We need action and we can only get that if we work together. 70% of Sweden's population live within 50 kilometers from the coast. We need instruments, then we can move transport from road to sea, says Carola Alzén, CEO of Mälarhamnar AB.

Sustainable freight transport
Short-sea shipping was also a major focus during the session on "Shipping, as a part of future sustainable freight transport". Fredrik Söderbaum, from the agency transport Analysis, told us that they are currently making measurements on inland waterways and ensuring that traffic on inland waterways have the potential to grow. A disadvantage of shipping is, however, longer lead times. Shipping has a lower rate compared to other modes of transport, and it is uneven flows.

Longer transport time for shipping is less important for large shippers, shows a study presented by Johan Woxenius, professor at the University of Gothenburg. Five Swedish companies with extensive container business has been interviewed and the biggest transport buyers say reliability is most important, that the goods arrive at the promised time.

Being able to sail slowly is essential for shipping to reduce their fuel consumption and climate impact. It also gives carriers the ability to tie up capacity and control the supply of transport services.

From the buyers perspective, the shipping sector offer is hard to influence and the offer from the shipping companies are very homogenous.

- Road and rail carriers are perceived as more responsive than shipping, says Johan Woxenius.

One barge = 40 trucksHenrik Källsson from Erik Thun AB spoke about the high-tech barges that can relieve road and rail. The barges have a loading capacity equivalent to 40 trucks, but with an enginge capacity equivalent to only three trucks. But the problem is that there are too many question marks surrounding the inland waterways. Mainly around the staffing, pilotage and fees.

- It is very difficult to start up a business when you do not know the deal, says Henrik Källsson. 

Henrik Källsson says, however, that they, through the joint company Avatar Logistics, will do tests during the first quarter of this year and run containers between Gothenburg and Vanersborg to show that inland waterways are a viable option. Avatar Logistics, is a collaboration between Thun, Ahlmarks Lines and VT Group, . 

Elin Skogens has been a traffic planner for the City of Stockholm with responsibility for freight transport and city logistics, and she gave her view on the inland waterways from the city's perspective. Elins Skogens said that it is easy to forget the links between water and land infrastructure. She sees above all the ability to move bulk with help of inland waterways. Construction materials into the town and construction waste out of town. 

OECD talked about Swedish portsThe International Transport Forum, OECD, has recently examined the Swedish ports in general, and the Port of Gothenburg in particular. The report was presented for the first time during Transportforum and the author Olaf Merk concluded that it is important to invest in the Port of Gothenburg for Sweden to be able to stand up to international competition. More on the OECD report can be read here.

Loops and ports for efficient transport chainsThe last maritime session was about how transport can become more efficient and this session presented an investigation of how the modeling of loops in maritime transport could make transport more efficient. In Sweden, the Swedish Transport Administration's national freight model Samgods is used to model and analyze freight transports. But according to studies, Samgods is not optimized for shipping. The tool only simulates direct routes between two ports, and does not account for different vessel types and sizes or mixed loads of different kinds of goods.Disa Asplund from VTI in cooperation with Jonas Westin from Umeå University has looked at Samgods based on SCA's transport chains and concluded that it would be possible to model loops in which a ship makes several stops along the way, and by taking into account that the ship has several kinds of goods, the model would better show shipping's competitive advantages.  

Another way to improve the efficiency of the transport chain can be by means of loading terminals, Extended Gates, outside the urban environment. A previous feasibility study from IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute and Logistics Landscapers have concluded that a  terminal north of Gothenburg, where the goods are loaded on to large vessels (HCT = High Capacity Transport) which takes the load to the port, would reduce the heavy traffic in the city and thus also CO2-emissions . Moreover, fleet operators benefit from not having to get caught with their trucks in city traffic.

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