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Innovative Ship Pilot Research

European Union
Complete with results
Project Acronym
STRIA Roadmaps
Transport mode
Waterborne icon
Transport policies
Societal/Economic issues


Background & Policy context

Trade in Europe is fundamental to economic development and intermodal transport is a key factor in facilitating this trade. It is therefore necessary that EU shipping keeps pace with market requirements for the distribution of goods and that short sea shipping is integrated in intermodal transport chains in order to provide efficient and dependable door-to-door services. Innovative shipping concepts need to be examined to help promote EU shipping. The provision of frequent, reliable, safe and cost-effective sea transport is a primary concern in certain peripheral areas of the EU where no alternatives exist to cargo transport by ship.


The main project objective was to demonstrate how, within selected trade corridors, short sea shipping can be made more competitive as part of an intermodal transport chain.

Specific objectives were to:

  • develop methodologies for determining strategies that will increase the effectiveness and competitiveness of EU short-sea shipping on key corridors;
  • demonstrate that EU short-sea shipping can extend its competitiveness through the application of vessels that are optimally matched to trading corridors and to ports;
  • provide policy recommendations to improve the overall effectiveness of EU short-sea shipping.


Parent Programmes
Institution Type
Public institution
Institution Name
European Commission; Directorate-General for Energy and Transport (DG TREN; formerly DG VII)
Type of funding
Public (EU)


The main INSPIRE product is a methodology for corridor studies. The methodology integrates economic, logistic and design issues and is a valuable tool to decide ship type and speed and to analyse effects of infrastructure investments on a corridor. The methodology includes formats for data collection on ports, ships and cargo flows, and a simulation tool (TradeStar) enabling comparison of multi-modal transport solutions, for example use of alternative routings, different vessels and land transport vehicles, and different fuel charges. Case studies have been carried out on four corridors.

Results from the Spain - Canary Islands case study showed that the use of a 25 knots lo-lo cargo ship directly from Barcelona to Canary Islands is the best option considering time, cost and environmental issues. In the Portugal - Azores/Madeira case study, the use of direct connection between Lisbon and the islands, with a coastal feeder system between Lisbon and Leixoes, was found to improve time and costs on the current situation.

The Ireland - North-West Europe case study showed that a combination of ro-ro and lo-lo ships will provide a competitive service on the Ireland-Continent route. Two conceptual ship designs have been developed: a 21 knot cargo ro-ro vessel, and a 18 knot open-hatch lo-lo vessel. In the Russia - EU case study, the port of Kaliningrad was found to have the potential to become a container terminal for Russia-destined cargo which today is transported through the ports in the Baltic countries.

Policy implications

Results from strategic analysis suggest that, in order to achieve long-term prosperity, the waterborne transport industry should establish the following objectives:

  • profitability through strategic alliances and quality products,
  • productivity through efficiency, reliability, safety and lower crew demands,
  • competitive position through improved services, flexibility and optimised modal interfaces,
  • technological leadership through application of new technology, vessel design, and environmental friendly solutions.

Main policy recommendations include:

  • fostering research on LNG propulsion in view of the potential for emission reduction;
  • reconsideration of tonnage-related dues which currently make certain innovative ships less competitive;
  • port terminals should offer uninterrupted intermodal transport 24 hours seven days a week.

Decision support tools aimed at minimising the risks related to waterborne transport investments are being developed in follow-up research.


Lead Organisation
EU Contribution
Partner Organisations
EU Contribution


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