RORO Gothenburg Harbour
Photo: Göteborgs hamn

Extending shipping’s part of the transport chain

Research project
Inactive research
Project size
650 000 SEK
Project period
2019 - 2019
Project owner
Department of Business Administration, School of Business, Economics and Law

Region Skåne and Trafikverket via Triple F

Short description

Sweden trades intensely with its neighbours in Northern Europe and a substantial part of the trade is moved by short sea shipping. Ferries connecting Sweden with Denmark, Germany and Poland are crucial transport links for manufactured goods, but the maritime crossing is often minimised while the distance over land is maximised. As a result, almost one third of the freight flow through Skåne (Scania) is transit between Continental Europe, Central Sweden, West Sweden and Norway. A modal shift from road to sea can halve the CO2emissions in gram/tonkm depending on type of vessel, speed and utilisation. What has to be changed to realise the shift to sea?


If all the goods that pass Skåne on road is shifted to sea, the study estimates that 4 to 11 per cent of CO2-emissions from heavy vehicles in Sweden can be avoided, corresponding to 140000 to 360000 tons of CO2e. The calculation uses a set of assumptions and should be interpreted as an indication and not as exact figures. Shifting goods movements to short sea shipping via ports north of Skåne would also help to decongest one of Sweden’s busiest roads, the E6 between Malmö and Helsingborg.

Increase the use of longer ferry routes

The simplest way to extend shipping’s part of the transport chain is to increase the use of the longer ferry routes Gothenburg-Kiel and Nynäshamn-Gdansk, particularly if the routes are strengthened by RoRo departures for unaccompanied cargo. It is also plausible with new RoRo and ferry routes between the south coast of the Baltic Sea and Swedish ports between Skåne/Blekinge and Gothenburg on the west coast and Nynäshamn/Stockholm on the east coast. The industrial short sea shipping systems operated for the forest industry can find further use. There might also be commercial possibilities for routes calling several ports along the west and east coasts or a hub system connecting the existing ferry lines with new domestic routes via a hub port in Skåne.

What has to be changed?

The study is based on a survey to Swedish shippers and in-depth interviews with one shipper, nine ports and three shipping lines. Data from a previous study interviewing drivers in ports in Skåne is also used for analysing freight flows and what has to be changed to realise the shift to sea.

A precondition for prolonged sea legs is a continued transition to unaccompanied transport and that the shippers analyse the real lead time requirements and how their logistics systems can support the use of short sea shipping. The shift will be severely hampered if they merely follow the routine and order door-to-door services from road hauliers that use ferries as a supplier between two ports.

There are no physical or technical barriers to a shift to shipping in the short run. The ports have spare capacity for accommodating more ships and assist with transhipment. Neither is access to vessels a significant barrier, but rather business issues and transport quality aspects such as cost and frequency. Another problem is that a large part of the flows are related to destinations within a day’s driving distance and longer shipping routes must compete with flexible road haulage offered at a low price. Examples of policy measures to speed up the modal shift are reduced fairway, pilot and port dues; a transhipment subsidy for load units and a stiffened taxation of CO2-emissions.

The project is funded by Region Skåne and the Swedish Transport Administration through its research and innovation programme Triple F aiming at fossil free freight transport. The project is jointly carried out by Region Skåne and University of Gothenburg.


Johan Woxenius, project leader, University of Gothenburg
Catrin Lammgård, University of Gothenburg
Anastasia Christodoulou, University of Gothenburg

Petra Stelling, Region Skåne
Björn Petersson, Region Skåne