Study Report - Transshipment Hub Concept


The study report on Transshipment Hub Concept considered the theoretical features of Transshipment Hub, studied the best practices of European ports, implemented a group of interviews with inland waterway actors and potential stakeholders, considered transhipping and multimodality in the order of further integration of inland waterway transport in the intermodal supply chain.


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- the study report was published first on XAMK site 19.5.2021


Inland navigation can play an important role in increasing supply chain service performance Inland navigation and river-sea shipping depends on the infrastructure of rivers, canals and waterways. The hub-and-spoke transportation network design is modelled as a multi-commodity flow-based hub and spoke system, giving rise to a gateway hub location problem. The models of hubs and gateways reflect the current European types of ports. European transshipment hubs are showing effective practice of all types of cargo including container traffic.


Criteria for Transshipment Hub Decisions to locate new logistics facilities or infrastructure generally involve significant resources and a variety of stakeholder groups. It is important to gain an accurate perspective from each stakeholder group to determine the priority that each identified criterion should receive.

Transshipment Hub implementation has to be beneficial both for the environment and for people in the surrounding areas. In Finland there is a lot of water area around Lake Saimaa and its development brings a massive potential for the inland waterway transport and for the international trade. However, the use of existing infrastructure is the most rational way to avoid expense and having construction of new fairways with negative environmental impact.

The inland waterway transport is more sustainable than many other modes of transport because the ship transports larger volumes of goods and less harmful emissions to the environment.

The Hub development will increase employment in the surrounding areas, as well as increase tax revenues. It is also obvious that as soon as a new activity or construction happens, it immediately attracts the attention of a large group of people. Interested parties start to consider a new player as an opportunity or as a start for their own development.

Waterway Transport Interests Different Stakeholders

Interviewing showed that there is continuing interest in industrial production per channel. Companies located far from the waterway are attracted by the profitability and opportunities of water transport to be environmentally-friendly. The majority of respondents stated that extending the locks would significantly increase the attractiveness of the waterway. This improvement allows the use of large vessels on Lake Saimaa. Shipping companies will have the opportunity to start building ships with new dimensions and requirements. During the interview, a list of recommendations from water transport operators was collected. The technical requirements have been identified for the needs of the IACS classes and the EU inland waterway directives. Typical ships for Saimaa routes are DWT 3500 and meet the ice class requirements of FS 1A. Most respondents noticed 1A and 1B class as needed. But for the needs of manoeuvring there was the necessity to be equipped with a side bow thruster.


Container Transport on Waterways According to the information received from the benchmark, container transport has a significant share in the waterway transport of European ports. But the problem of shifting cargoes from roads to the greener waterways is relevant and ports are finding the competing of IWT with road transport a real problem. Sweden underlines that solving it needs a flexible approach. Ports are making decisions based on calculations and on existing cargo flows. European transshipment hub practices show the importance of container transport in linking waterways to main freight corridors and the importance of accessing deeper fairways for the development of the IWT.


Development Steps Towards the Transshipment Hub As future research it is supposed that further investigations with calculated benefits make the next step of port development into a Transshipment Hub. The establishment of a Transshipment hub and service development will usher a new horizon of prosperity and sustainable security for the Finnish people. The implementation of this concept essentially relies on strong national will and perspective vision of port leaders and basically could be the potential strategic plan for successful future development of IWT. It should be noted that the economic slowdown in the world economy that was caused by the pandemic situation can bring reduced cargo growth and volume available for shipping companies. It is important that if short sea or feeder service can demonstrate significant cost reductions over competing modes, then shippers (and shipping lines) may give alternative routings some consideration. Competition from other modes may nevertheless increase, given the drop in traffic demand.

With the right public support programmes and investments, the development of the Port of Vyborg can play a more important role in the movement of freight and in the optimisation of the inland waterway transport of both Finland and the Russian Federation.


The study was conducted by South-Eastern University of Applied Sciences, Anna Kiviniitty, in the frames of “INFUTURE” Project, funded by the European Union, the Russian Federation and the Republic of Finland.