Choose Waterways - the most advantageous way regarding the socio-economic impact

The Finnish Waterways in co-operation with the Finnish Transport Infrastructure Agency (earlier Finnish Transport Agency) fullfilled a survey on Cost Benefit Analysis at the Saimaa Lake area.




The work was conducted by a Swedish traffic analysis company M4Traffic AB, commissioned by the Finnish Waterways within the EMMA project and excecuted in co-operation with the Finnish Transport Infrastructure Agency. This was the first public study regarding the social costs (emissions, accident costs, infrastructure maintenance costs  etc.) on the different transport modes in Finland.


The Baltic Sea Region with its growing transport volumes especially between East and West needs innovative and pragmatic solutions to cope with future transportation requirements. Rivers, canals and also the Baltic Sea have huge capacity reserves, whereas road and rail infrastructure are (at least in some parts of the Baltic Sea Region) overloaded.


However, inland waterway transport (IWT) is not concidered to be a part pf the logistics chain and does not play a role in the transport system commensurate to its potential.

The Saimaa Lake and Canal area are the only inland waterways in Finland having cargo transportation. This inland waterway connection to the sea is vital for the area. At the moment there are plans for significant improvements at the Saimaa Lake and Canal area, which needs noteworthy investments from the state and regions as well as from the shipowners.


The Cost Benefit Analysis at the Saimaa Lake Area​​

Different transport alternatives for pulp transport from Joensuu, Finland to Dusseldorf, Germany were studied and compared in order to understand ​​which of the transport alternatives is preferable from a socio-economic point of view.


The calculations were based on actual transport volumes of pulp and information was received from the Finnish Infrastructure Transport Agency and on guidelines from the Swedish Transport Administration. The time span was until 2062, hence the current agreement between Finland and Russia on the Saimaa Canal rent is in force.


This socio-economic analysis covered the costs related to the different transport scenarios that society values and can put a price on. All alternatives were calculated one-way direction from Joensuu to Düsseldorf and on a condition of fully loaded vessel, truck or train for a yearly volume of 200 000 mt.


Six different transport options and one sub alternative are included in the analysis and compared to each other:

  • Alternative 1      Direct vessel – General cargo ship 2 500 dwt and 3 200 dwt

  • Alternative 2a    Truck (Carelian route) - RoRo ship 9 500 dwt -Truck

  • Alternative 2b    Truck (Carelian route) - Passanger ferry ship -Truck

  • Alternative 3      Truck (Carelian route) - General cargo ship 4 500 dwt -Truck

  • Alternative 4      Train (Carelian route) - General cargo ship 4 500 dwt -Train

  • Alternative 5      Truck (Savo route) - General cargo ship 4 500 dwt -Truck

  • Alternative 6      Train (Savo route) - General cargo ship 4 500 dwt -Train

The Results of the Socio-Economic Calculation

The results of the socio-economic calculation show that direct vessel transport from Joensuu to Dusseldorf is the most advantageous. This applies both to the total costs as well as the costs that affects society in terms of wear and tear, accident costs and emissions. The fact that the total socio-economic costs are lowest for this option indicates that it is beneficial for the society to try to influence the carriers to choose inland waterways as a transport mode.

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Photo Credits: Joensuun Laivaus Oy and Oy Saimaa Terminals Ab



Photo Credits: Joensuun Laivaus