Transport performance deficiencies are regarded by the business stakeholders as one of the most prominent barriers to economic prosperity and growth in the Baltic Sea Region (BSR). As underlined in the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region, appropriate public policy response is needed to increase the accessibility of territories and the quality of connections, and to master the increasing flows in and across the Region.
TransBaltic was a strategic BSR-wide project carried out by regional authorities, transport and logistics-related research institutions, transport operators, logistics associations and pan-Baltic networks. The partnership of 20 organisations was backed up by further 31 entities, including several national transport ministries around the Baltic Sea.
TransBaltic addressed two issues of common concern for the BSR, namely:
- Inward oriented transport solutions in individual Baltic Sea countries and fast growing freight volumes - mainly in the road transport. As diagnosed in the BSR Programme, inefficient transnational components make the transport networks and logistic patterns of the countries not compatible and not building a consistent transport system in the area. Such transport deficiencies are regarded by enterprises and transport operators as one of the most prominent barriers to economic prosperity and growth in the BSR.
- Increasing transport flows across the BSR call for incentives how to turn the opportunity of enhancing the BSR gateway function in serving these flows into the strength. Among them shall be practical solutions, which on one hand contribute to a better transport co-modality, with more integrated road, rail and sea infrastructures, but on the other - to stimulate sustainable regional development.
TransBaltic, as one of few transnational projects so far, was granted a strategic status by the authorities of the Baltic Sea Region Programme 2007-2013. In that way the decision-makers acknowledged the role of TransBaltic in fostering the sustainable development of the Region, the project’s wide geographical coverage, a deep focus on implementation and the strong political backup at the national level.
TransBaltic was led by Region Skane and lasted from 1 June 2009 to 31 December 2012.
The overall objective of TransBaltic was to provide regional level incentives for the creation of a comprehensive multimodal transport system in the BSR. This was to be achieved by means of joint transport development measures and jointly implemented business concepts. The project wished to address this key challenge by complementing actions taken by the national authorities within the framework of the EU Baltic Sea Strategy. The envisaged action plan contained measures, which addressed internal connectivity, interoperability and intermodality constraints of the Baltic Sea Region from the sustainable regional development perspective.
It was addressed in two contexts:
- The first context relates to intergovernmental actions taken within the framework of the EU Baltic Sea Strategy (Priority Area Transport) to harmonise national infrastructure planning within the BSR. The regional level stakeholders saw a need to complement them with measures, which apart from transport intermodality and interoperability would also stimulate the sustainable regional growth and territorial cohesion.
- The second context is associated with the external accessibility of the BSR. The project aspired to work out preparedness measures for the increasing intercontinental transport flows across the BSR and well as the flows between the BSR and other European macroregions (e.g. Mediterranean area). This aspect was perceived as so far not adequately addressed by EU, national and regional transport policies.
As a departure point, TransBaltic took up outcomes of completed transnational transport projects in the BSR and past pan-Baltic initiatives, but refreshed them, structured into a consistent framework and upgraded with some pilot business actions.
The plan also featured regional preparedness measures for the increasing intercontinental transport flows to unlock investments serving better external accessibility of the Region.
Building on existing knowledge
In that respect TransBaltic would draw inspiration from ongoing and completed initiatives of the pan-Baltic organisations. It was to join forces with transport corridor projects, such as EWTC II and Scandria, by providing inspiration for their investigations and generalising their specific findings (in a form of so called BSR blueprints).
Traffic forecasts and scenarios
To provide a decision support basis for regional and national transport investments, the project intended to deliver traffic forecasts and scenarios for particular TEN-T and secondary transport corridors in the Baltic Sea Region. It was also to develop guidelines, manuals and business plans for piloted transport and logistics solutions as well as feasibility studies and implementation plans.
A meeting place for public and private transport stakeholders
TransBaltic also arranged a meeting place for public and private transport stakeholders to discuss specific harmonisation needs from the regional growth perspective.
TransBaltic managed to: create a recognisable brand as a strategic macroregional project; communicate new knowledge and ideas how to develop a sustainable multimodal transport system in the BSR; and test green transport solutions.
It can be responisble for:
- Guidelines on BSR-specific transport intermodality and interoperability solutions (BSR transport blueprints) – which would test and verify EU transport and cohesion policy proposals
- Traffic forecasts and scenarios for particular TEN-T and secondary transport corridors in the Baltic Sea Region – as a decision support basis for regional and national transport investments
- Manual and handbook on empty freight reduction – to decrease space requirements and road/rail haulage cost in container traffic
- Feasibility studies and implementation plans for dry ports and for port-bound road traffic telematics
- Pre-feasibility and impact assessment studies for rail transport in selected parts of the Region
- Business plans for, inter alia, the empty container management and for the ICT toolbox (a web-based tool to help business users, especially SMEs, plan optimum intermodal door-to-door solutions for the transport of cargo)
- Training methodology for a competence management system in harbour logistics
- A meeting place for public and private transport stakeholders to discuss specific harmonisation needs from the regional growth perspective (incl. e.g. challenges for Baltic ports, human capacity building in transport operations and implementation of a green corridor concept in the Baltic Sea Region)
TransBaltic was cited as a good example of working with multilevel governance issues (cf. BDF State of the Region Report 2011). It was also presented as a best practice case in strategic communication and lobbying (with a motto: CONNECT-INSPIRE-SHOW NEW HORIZONS) at the BSR Programme communication seminar. The main outputs include:
• TransBaltic Policy Reports 2010 and 2011, with a set of BSR transport and territorial development scenarios in 2030 and impact analysis of future transcontinental freight flows on transport patterns in the BSR
• almost 40 thematic reports on transport and logistics issues of transnational relevance
• a notion of a network of green multimodal transport corridors in the BSR as a component of the transport system and important factor for territorial cohesion – induced to the EU Baltic Sea Strategy Action Plan in 2012
• BSR transport blueprints with generalised results of tested business concepts in transport and logistics - for replication in and outside the BSR by consortia of public authorities and business actors
• The Macroregional Transport Action Plan (MTAP). The MTAP is a novel achievement.
Prepared together by TransBaltic and the umbrella projects, it is not a sum of domestic transport priorities but contains very detailed policy actions, needed to create better interfaces between national transport networks and to make the BSR transport system more resilient to future changes. It is agreed to be a living document that will be systematically updated and extended by the ongoing projects – within the framework of the transport cluster under the BSR Programme.
The MTAP is primarily addressed to the policymakers to serve as a pro-active and future-oriented policy support instrument. Created by the regions, it complements the two intergovernmental initiatives of similar kind - the Baltic Transport Outlook and the NORDIM study (decision-support basis for the NDPTL).
The follow-up project – BSR TransGovernance – will attempt to streamline them towards a harmonised national/regional perspective. Furthermore, some specific stakeholders declared a will to use and further develop TransBaltic results - e.g. in task 5.1 or 5.5. This work may also continue within the framework of the TransBaltic extension stage.