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Kvarken Strait: Towards new opportunities

Published the 6 May 2014

In the Kvarken Strait, a new northern East-West shipping lane shortens the transportation time between Europe and the Far East by one to two weeks.

Mathias Lindström of the Kvarken Council is living in exciting times. “As a result of global warming a ship has made its way through the Northern Sea Route across the Arctic Ocean without icebreaker assistance for the first time in recent history. This will bring about revolutionary changes in global logistics and open up brand new opportunities for Northern Europe.”

A new northern East-West shipping lane shortens the transportation time between Europe and the Far East by one to two weeks.

“It is essential to improve our capacity now, since the question is not if this will become a reality, but rather when”, Lindström establishes. “We are in a very good position and together with the city of Umeå we constitute a strong multimodal link with great potential.”

Umeå on the Swedish side already boasts one of Northern Europe’s largest goods terminal. Locally, the city of Vaasa and the municipality of Korsholm are currently planning a common logistics centre.

“We can strengthen the transport network in Northern Europe by connecting Finland and Sweden. In the long run this also involves Norway and Russia, due to the international transport corridor that runs from Mo i Rana on Norway’s Atlantic coast all the way down to Saint Petersburg”, Lindström explains.

A strong infrastructure across the Kvarken is particularly important for the surrounding regions.

“At the moment, Umeå is one of Europe’s fastest growing cities, with Vaasa as its closest neighbor. As both cities attract a lot of students, there are many synergy effects that could be harnessed even more efficiently.”

Today the Vaasa-Umeå route is serviced by the ferry Wasa Express, but there are already concrete and far-reaching plans for how to handle the traffic in the future:

“The amount of work and lobbying has been massive, and it has generated fantastic results. If it all goes well, a new specially adapted ferry will start to operate the route in 2020. It is a custom designed ferry, fully tailored to suit our needs and purposes. Thanks to our great regional competence, we will be able to develop a state-of-the-art product that will serve the local business needs in full”, Lindström asserts.

Facts:

The TEN-T project Midway Alignment of the Bothnian Corridor is a vital, year-round maritime transport connection between Sweden and Finland. The link connects to three major roads classified by the UNECE as European roads of strategic importance – the E12, the E4 and the E8 – and to the newly built Bothnian Link main railway line. It also supports and complements the Priority Projects and the Core and Comprehensive Network of the European Union.

The global Midway Alignment project is upgrading the transport route in order to fulfil national and international requirements for an environmentally and economically sustainable transport system with increased multi-modality and higher transport security. The project includes a complete transport system for both goods and passengers and is initiated by the city of Umeå in Sweden and the city of Vaasa in Finland.

The upgrade aims at:

  • designing and developing a new ferry for the Kvarken strait
  • improving the environmental and economic performance of port operations and the regional logistic system
  • increasing market attractiveness
  • securing long-term operational stability
  • introducing innovative technologies and solutions as well as disseminating best practices within the European Union

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