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            july 21, 2019

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Gothenburg rail dream comes true


Rail freight into the Port of Gothenburg increased 27 per cent in the last quarter, indicating that the port's old plan to cope with losses suffered though low-sulphur fuel restrictions may well be paying off.
It's been a long time coming. Because when less stringent low-sulphur fuel restrictions came into for four years ago, Gothenburg had a plan in place.
Gothenberg's vital commodity is lumber to feed Ikea's main factory. The lumber comes in from the north Baltic by ship around the tip of Sweden to the country's main port on the Atlantic, and once processed, is shipped out to the world from there.
The plan anticipated the shift from sea to the under-utilised railway between the northern timber stands and sawmills because the then cost of bunker - US$60 a ton versus $100 for the low sulphur blend - would make it uneconomical for ships to face a deadhead voyage to the upper reaches of the Baltic only to return with a low-value sawn lumber on a long short-sea voyage to the other side to Sweden.
But then came the big surprise. No sooner did the low-sulphur rule come in, than the bottom fell out of the world oil market and the more expensive low-sulphur fuel was about as expensive as the cheaper standard bunker had been. Thus, Baltic shipping stayed more or less as it had been - until recently.
Claes Sundmark, the Gothenburg Port Authority box and ro-ro chief, who told the Hong Kong Shipping Gazette about the scheme on a visit four years ago, was content to say.
"The fact that long-distance freight transport is recovering at a higher rate is a clear indication of the growing confidence in the Container Terminal throughout the country," he said reported St Petersburg PortNews.
During the past year, rail-borne container volumes to and from Gothenburg rose by 13 per cent. Volume growth intensified during the year and was strongest during the final quarter with an increase of 27 per cent.
The freight often needs to be switched to containers at one of the three transloading terminals at the Port of Gothenburg, all of which are located close to the Container Terminal.

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