Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Swedish Port Sees TEU and Multimodal Volumes Rise as Road Freight Switches to Rail

Gothenburg Has Oil, Truck, Container, RoRo, Passenger and Track Capabilities
Shipping News Feature
SWEDEN – Figures published by the Port of Gothenburg, the only deep water port in the country able to take the latest generation of mega container ships, show things are looking up with multimodal capability at the new Arken Combi Terminal seeing traffic switching between road freight, rail track and RoRo ferries. Arken replaced the old Combi Terminal which last year handled 60,000 cargo units to add to the near 400,000 TEU which passed through the port by rail.

Arken has meant more efficient handling of the intermodal stock in 2018 and that total of 398,000 units included a jump of 27% for the last quarter of the year. Overall rail-borne container volumes to and from the Port of Gothenburg rose by 13% prompting Claes Sundmark, Vice President, Container, Ro-Ro and Rail at Gothenburg Port Authority, to comment:

“Short-distance freight recovered very quickly whilst long-distance rail volumes took slightly longer. The fact that rail volumes are now returning at an increasing rate is a clear indication of the growing confidence in the Container Terminal throughout the country.”

Much of the long-distance freight is made up of Swedish basic industry products such as steel, paper and timber, which are generally transported by rail from inland locations or the east coast to the Port of Gothenburg for onward transport by sea to export markets on the continent. The freight often needs to be switched to containers at one of the three trans-loading terminals at the Port of Gothenburg, all of which are located close to the Container Terminal.

Trans-loading of sawn timber between rail and ship at the Port of Gothenburg is largely handled by the service operator Mimab. Trans-loading like this rose by almost 20% in 2018 compared with the previous year and, once again for Mimab volumes were highest during the fourth quarter, causing chief executive Michael Bergman to say:

“We had an excellent year and a particularly good autumn, when we were working at full capacity. The trend has continued into 2019 with consistently high volumes. And there are no signs of a slow-down. On the contrary, the upturn looks set to continue.”

At the moment the Port Line, the dedicated freight track that runs directly into the port, is being overhauled and converted into a double-track system. Several sections have already been completed, including the new double-track Marieholm Bridge, which opened back in 2016. Phase 2 was recently completed, bringing rail traffic all the way into the Container Terminal. Phase 3 of conversion of the Port Line to a double-track system is due to commence in 2019.

This development will bring more efficiency to Gothenburg which handles half of the country’s container traffic and 30% of all Sweden’s foreign trade at a time when things appear to be on an upward trajectory with 25 daily rail shuttles linking customers throughout both Sweden and Norway to the port and its oil, RoRo, container and passenger facilities.