Water - unexplored urban space?

On February 9, CLOSER and Lighthouse, along with projects EMMA and NOKS, arranged a seminar on regional and local waterways in Stockholm. Fully booked with more than 100 participants shows that it is a hot topic. The expectations from the participants on site were high and many wanted to get an overview of what is already being done in different projects and some hoped that such a seminar would help to "bring some governmental action"

Introduction speaker Joachim Glasell, Maritime Forum, accounted for an international outlook and mentioned the two major challenges for inland waterways in Europe. First, it is the increased containerization that is difficult to manage as well as the replacement of fossil fuels. Today, coal and petroleum products dominates the inland waterways, but this is expected to decrease. The next major product categories expected to increase are steel and building materials, Joachim said.

In early 2016, the Swedish Maritime Administration in close cooperation with the Swedish Transport Administration was given the task, by the Government, to review the conditions of inland and coastal shipping and to propose measures to enhance maritime freight and passenger transport in Sweden. The result was presented at the seminar by Björn Garberg from the Swedish Maritime Administration. The analysis shows several positive aspects, especially for short sea shipping. There are, for example, existing freight flows that match many of the country's waterways, which means that the movement of goods from road to waterways would not have to affect the flows geographically to any great extent. Bjorn also pointed out that there are plenty of ports that are evenly distributed across the country and that there is spare capacity in both ports and shipping lanes. Some of the challenges that inland and coastal shipping in Sweden have to contend with is that shipping is based on large volumes of goods which can sometimes be an advantage but also a disadvantage in certain contexts. Truck transport is also more flexible and faster transport than shipping, which can offer a much higher frequency.

- It is not always that transport buyers' requirements and shipping properties match, Björn Garberg said.

Johan Isaksson, the Swedish Transport Agency, talked about the Agency’s project to develop new national regulations (Project National Regulations - PNF). TThe regulations are function-based, which will provide more space for different kinds of solutions to comply with the rules. With the rules, there are general, but not mandatory advice and support and references to other regulations and standards. 

- Function-based rules will provide increased opportunities for innovative solutions and new technology development, Johan Isaksson says.

The afternoon was filled filled with presentations by regional and local projects for freight and passenger transport by water. Among other things, the Lighthouse report “The waterway - the intermodal piece to resource efficient regional and urban transport” was presented by Karl Garm from KTH. Read about it here.

The seminar was recorded and can be seen here (in Swedish)