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Advanced Technology and Digitalisation for Inland Waterways

Conference on “Inland Waterways: Strategic Growth Potential” was held within the framework of the NEVA-2021 exhibition September 20th, 2021. The conference was organized by the Admiral Makarov State University of Maritime and Inland Shipping (AMSUMIS) as a part of the project "Future potential of inland waterways, INFUTURE" project, financed from the Russia - South-East Finland - EU cross-border cooperation program 2014 -2020. The media partner of the conference was IAA PortNews.

Icebreaker PROTECTOR and RMS NEUDORF, Saimaa Canal, Nuyama, Finland. Photo by Kirill Bakhmetyev.

About 60 business and government representatives from Russia, Finland, Germany and the Netherlands took part in the conference. This hybrid conference was held in St. Petersburg: some of the participants were at present and some online with presentations and taking part in the discussion.

A great attention was paid to the development and modernization of infrastructure and the solution of problems limiting the volume of traffic on inland waterways. Deputy Head of the Federal Agency for Maritime and River Transport (Rosmorrechflot) Konstantin Anisimov noted that for the development of GDP it is important to eliminate the bottlenecks hindering navigation on inland waterways. One of these places is the Gorodetsky area. “The government has decided to solve this problem by building an additional chamber 15A to the existing Gorodetsky hydroelectric complex and creating a canal between Gorodetsky and Nizhny Novgorod. A design competition is planned for the coming months, and the intention is to implement the project by the end of 2024”.

Pekka Koskinen, the Deputy Chairman of the Board of the Association of Finnish Waterways spoke about the measures aimed at increasing the efficiency of transport between the inland ports of the Saimaa waterway system and the sea and river ports in Europe. “In Finland attention has paid into the development and modernization of the Saimaa Canal infrastructure: 15 MEUR has been invested in the modernization of the lower locks, and another 75 MEUR in the construction of two new bridges. In the coming five years, there are also plans to invest in the construction of new icebreakers”.

The technologies for the development of navigable waterways, developed within the framework of the INFUTURE project, were also presented. In particular, the assessment of the possibility of using advanced navigation and hydrographic technologies to extend the navigation period was presented. The studies on the implementation of modern technological and digital solutions, the results of an experiment on the use of floating innovative navigation buoys on the NEVA river, capable of maintaining their technical and operational properties enabling year-round navigation.

Conceptual projects of new kind of vessels for inland navigation was another important topic discussed at the conference. Specialists from ASUMIS presented the project and the main technical characteristics of a river-sea container ship sailing from Lappeenranta, Finland to Moscow, Russia. Representative of Aker Arctic Technology Inc., Finland, Alexey Shtrek presented projects with new vessels for more efficient navigation on inland waterways. Alexander Egorov, General Director of the Marine Engineering Bureau, SPb LLC, shared information about current design trends regarding river vessels introduced in Russia and abroad.

In the conference the strategic initiatives in the development of river transport between Russia and Finland was also discussed. Thus, at present, the two neighboring countries have resumed dialogue at the level of the Ministries of Transport on two international projects. One of them is the restoration of navigable passenger traffic to the Port of Vyborg via inland waters from Finland. The other one concentrates on creation of a cruise tourist route between Russia and Finland along three lakes: Ladoga, Onega and Saimaa.

In addition, the conference discussed issues concerning the State regulation and support of the river industry, international co-operation in river navigation and training.

Summing up the conference, the Vice-Rector of the Scientific and Innovative Activities of the State Department of the AMSUMIS Tatiana Pantina noted that the participants of the conference came to a unanimous opinion: There are opportunities and desire to increase the potential for using inland waterway transport. “It is necessary to continue to work together, and, despite the existence of the listed challenges, it is possible to overcome them through dialogue and joint meetings. In this way, step by step, outlining plans and solving problems, including the projects implemented in the frames of the cross-border co-operation programs, we can achieve mutually beneficial results".

Analogous conference will be held in Kotka, Finland 30.11. - 1.12.2021. The program will be published soon.

INFUTURE project partners: Kotka Maritime Science Association (“Merikotka”), Association of Finnish Waterways, South-East Finland University of Applied Sciences, Admiral S.O. Makarova, Aalto University, Ailot Company, Arctia SeaHow Meritaito Company.

The original summary of the conference publish in Russian on the site of AMSUMIS.

The Media Partner of the conference, IAA PortNews, published on article on the conference in English. Link below

Article on INFUTURE by Port News on AMSUMIS materials 2021
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