Building the core network

”The European transport networks are part of the EU’s transport policy and its development, in which the essential thing for Finland is reachability”, sums up Annaleena Mäkilä, Managing Director of the Finnish Port Association.

”From the point of view of ports, we have done relatively well in the financing of TEN-T transport policy. On the other hand, the domestic financing for the development of waterborne routes and road connections will require a whole new approach.”
Traffic and logistics

At present, the core corridors of the European transport networks are being built up to the year 2030. Turku is one of the key ports and one of the ports in the TEN-T ScanMed corridor. The core network status sets certain demands for the service level to the ports. One of them is the possibility for bunkering of LNG to vessels.

”That can also be arranged as a mobile service on a truck or a floating service vessel. In Finland we have terminals in the ports of Tornio and Pori and the Neste Porvoo unit from which mobile bunkering services can be arranged.”

Core network ports are also required to provide onshore electricity supply, but only if there is demand on the market.

”There is a real onshore electricity boom in Sweden and Norway and we shall see when the discussion will pick up in Finland.”

The use of onshore electricity in different ports is not unambiguous, but its benefits include lower noise level in ports with residential areas nearby.

”For example in Turku the turnaround times of passenger ferries are so short that the use of onshore electricity is probably not financially sensible, because the ramp-up and shutdown of the equipment takes time.”

Finland at the global forefront of automation

At present, the leading edge of development of services for transports lies in the use of automation, robotisation and digitalisation. In that regard Finland’s maritime cluster is really advanced. Finland has projects that are related to unmanned vessels and the globally unique Jaakonmeri testing area.

”We are at the global forefront.”

Since the beginning of the year, ports and the shipping companies operating there have been obliged to open the interface of schedule information in passenger traffic services. That open data may be used e.g. in the development of mobile applications. The goal is to create new kinds of business operations. The application is also believed to enhance the fitting together of different modes of transport.

Need to stay alert with financing

Europe is investing in transport networks using a financing instrument called Connecting Europe. The Port of Turku has received such financing for the NextGen Link project which is updating the connection to Stockholm. The project extends to 2020 and includes the environmental and port investments of a new passenger car ferry (ro-pax).

”It is really great to see how the ports have succeeded in acquiring EU projects”, Annaleena Mäkilä says.

”The sources of financing have increased, and they now also include the European Fund for Strategic Investments for which Commissioner Jyrki Katainen is responsible in Brussels. Moreover, the European Investment Bank may grant loan-type forms of financing for large infrastructure investments, and we have a familiar face there, too, Alexander Stubb.”

In issues concerning ports and transports, Finland also has influence in the European Parliament, with two former Ministers of Transport and Communication, Merja Kyllönen and Henna Virkkunen, sitting in the Transport Committee.

”It’s important for the whole of Finland that in addition to the growth corridor of transports from the eastern border to Turku and further to Stockholm, we can extend a corridor from Helsinki to Northern Finland. The project is also supported by the Finnish Port Association.”

Critical moments for financing

Ms Mäkilä stresses that projects and applications involving EU financing require lobbying well ahead of the start of the actual application process. Professional consultants are useful for that purpose, as interaction on site in Brussels is necessary. You need to know the people and be familiar with the decision-making process for financing. You need to be able to emphasise Finland’s special characteristics.

”Right now is a critical moment for affecting the total financing framework for transports. The EU Commission is preparing the EU’s Multiannual Financial Framework. It includes the common resources of the TEN-T transport policy for the next seven-year financing period. Competition is naturally fierce between rail investments, needs of maritime transports, as well as ports and road traffic. The European organisation of ports is lobbying hard, and the national organisations contribute, too.”

Ports are being profiled

Finnish ports have now been operating as limited liability companies for three years. That is clearly visible in a more professional approach. It also requires the Boards of Directors of port enterprises to have new expertise profiles. Sales and marketing investments have increased in operative management.

The trade cycle is now favourable for ports. In the member ports of the Finnish Port Association the total growth of foreign goods transports in 2017 was 4.8 per cent.

Text and photos Sini Silvan

Turku in the core network of European transports

  • The port of Turku is included in the core network together with Naantali, Helsinki and HaminaKotka.
  • The core network also includes nodes of road, rail and air traffic in Turku and Helsinki.
  • The Port of Turku is part of the European TEN-T Scandinavian–Mediterranean transport corridor that connects Turku to Southern Europe. The key route from Turku towards St. Petersburg goes both along the E18 motorway and railway and is part of the European main route to Russia.
  • The TEN-T programme and its financing solutions have been calculated to create 10 million jobs and increase the GDP in the EU by 1.8 per cent.

The idea of the European transport network is to make the internal market function fluently, improve reachability and also unite Europe socially. A special goal is to ensure that both people and goods move smoothly and that the mode of transport can be easily changed. National transport networks and means of transport will be joined into smooth connections, and infrastructure will be built where it is missing. In the same way as with the Motorways of the Sea financing, the idea is to create e.g. a port connection from one country to another, an example being the development of the Turku–Stockholm connection.

New technologies and innovations will be used in the transport network. The goals also include reducing the greenhouse gas emissions and e.g. improving the availability of clean fuels based on demand.