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Professor Horst Linde: Container terminal in Świnoujście will fill the gap between Hamburg and Gdansk

There is enough space for a terminal that will fill the gap between Hamburg and Gdansk, and will be able to offer convenient access to the hinterland of western Poland, eastern Germany and regions in southern Europe, says Horst Linde, a member of the Institute of Land and Maritime Transport at the University of Technology in Berlin.

Prof. Linde, referring to the concept of building a deep-water container terminal in Świnoujscie, among the success conditions mentions, between other things, the necessity to handle large mainline vessels used on the most important overseas trades, and at the same time need to attract deep-sea carriers to Świnoujście.

- This will require very focused marketing activities, positioned around the benefits of direct calls to Świnoujście, as an alternative to, for example, Gdańsk and Klaipeda – stresses Professor. – Especially due to the fact, that ports which already handle the direct calls of large ocean-going vessels will be very interested in maintaining their market position.

Professor adds that the spectrum of interests of the Port of Świnoujście should also include carriers using feeder services of the North Sea hubs, such as Rotterdam, Antwerp, Wilhelmshaven, Hamburg.
"It won't be easy neither," admits Professor Linde. "These ports will certainly make every effort to maintain the services’ loops in the shape most favourable for themselves”.

Fees, access to the hinterland...

According to the expert, a competitive advantage can be built in a number of ways, e.g. through flexible container handling tariff policy, or favorable hinterland access system. Professor stresses the importance of a rational pricing policy, individual rate negotiations, long-term contracts including service level guarantees, etc.

Particular emphasis is placed on access to economically important hinterland, and supply/consumer markets.

- The advantage of Świnoujście/Szczecin seaports is the access to the Oder river, and possibility of use of inland waterway transport as an economically and ecologically sustainable method of transport – emphasizes the expert from Berlin.

The Havel/Oder-Kanal taking into account the current state of  navigability and the expected completion of the construction of the new Niederfinow lift, offers excellent access to the industrial areas of Berlin/Brandenburg, and even further to the west, e.g. to Magdeburg, Brunswick, Wolfsburg or even Hanover.

- Many people I know, who are supporters of inland navigation, expect that once Świnoujście is accessible directly for ocean-going vessels, the transport of containers from Hamburg, Bremerhaven and Wilhelmshaven, instead of road or rail transport, will move to the aforementioned eastern route - continues professor. - In fact, this is a very significant potential for the terminal in  Świnoujście.

Communication

Professor Linde draws also attention to the access to Polish most industrialized regions. This is a further perspective, requiring the restoration of navigability of Oder river on the entire length, the regulation of the river, the construction of dams, etc., and in the longer term the connection with the Danube. Activities in this direction are already being carried out. Before it happens however, the Silesian region will be well connected with the port by the express road S3, and the "Nadodrzanka" rail line.

- Once the functionality of inland navigation has been restored, complemented by rail and road transport, the potential of Świnoujście's hinterland will cover a significant part of the western and southern Poland, including parts of Silesia, eastern and south-eastern Germany, eastern and south-eastern European countries such as the Czech Republic, Austria and Hungary. This should be a firm basis for effective competition with Gdańsk and Hamburg and other ports such as Rostock or Lubeck – adds Professor Linde.

Access from the sea

The terminal located in the external port will provide free access for the largest container ships entering the Baltic Sea. In this regard, Prof. Linde’s opinion is in line with the authors of the Szczecin and Świnoujście Seaports Authority idea. He also points out that the terminals in Gdansk and Klaipeda are transhipment hubs for feeders in the eastern and north-eastern part of Baltic Sea. The terminal in Świnoujście, with favorable distances, can become a transhipment hub for the Baltic’s north-western part, e.g. Southern Sweden or Denmark.

Infrastructure

The expert also draws attention to the new terminal’s infrastructure, automation of processes of handling, internal transport and storage of containers, quality of equipment or quay parameters.
In his opinion, the problem of many ports is the transhipment of containers between ocean and inland vessels. He suggests to solve this problem at the early planning stage. He also encourages the investor to carefully consider the possibility of bunkering containerships in Świnoujście.

There is room for another terminal

Professor Linde believes that the operation of two big container terminals along the southern coast of the Baltic Sea – compared to at least 5 terminals in the southern North Sea range, between Elbe and the Rhine/Meuse/Scheldt – means that there is enough space for the third terminal. It would fill the gap between Hamburg and Gdansk, offering convenient access to the huge hinterland of western Poland, eastern Germany and further areas in southern Europe. Such terminal would be available at relatively short transport distances, and the availability of all means of transport.

"Regardless of the good starting conditions, it shall be expected that Gdańsk and Hamburg will defend their current market position, so it will be a fascinating challenge to operate within this competition", adds Professor Horst Linde.

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