Sweden has an exemplary international freight infrastructure with internal and external communications that are second to none.
The economy is in good shape, despite the global slowdown, with substantial GDP growth over the last decade and it is judged to be one of the most competitive and robust economies anywhere in the world.
This has led to development and constant innovation in freight transport and freight services as well as other sectors. In particular, there has been investment where there can be simultaneous improvements in freight transport efficiency and also delivery of environmental benefits.
Evidence of this can be seen at the Port of Gothenburg, which is Sweden’s largest ro-ro port, handling 0.5 million trailers each year. Combi-train services catering for semi-trailers have started operating between the Port of Gothenburg and three other centres in Sweden – Vannas (1000 km to the north) Helsingborg (in south west Sweden) and Eskilstuna in central Sweden.
Over the past ten years, the Port of Gothenburg has invested heavily in increasing the volume of freight forwarding moved by train to and from the port and today just under half of all containers are transported by rail. This is equivalent to around 200,000 containers a year, meaning that there are 550 fewer large trucks on the road each day.
At present, only a few of the ro-ro trailers accounting for freight transport arrive by train, with the remainder going by road, but this is about to change, with a short term goal for about 10% of all trailers to be transported to or from the port by trailer train. This would mean about 60,000 trailers each year, so that is around 165 less large trucks on the road each day. In the medium to long term, the objective is for this to rise to 25%, making a huge difference to the environmental impact of international freight in Sweden.
It is not quite so easy to introduce rail transport for trailers as it is for containers, as up to now it has been less expensive to move trailers by truck. However, the Port of Gothenburg is promoting the new freight transport arrangements to shipping companies and freight services companies and hopes that the freight forwarding sector operating in Sweden will latch onto the arrangement. This will offer efficient freight transport to shipping companies and bring significant environmental benefits.