The Maritime Institute in Gdańsk (MIG), partner of the EU co-financed TransBaltic Extension initiative and leader of the project’s Task 4.3. “Hub development perspective in the public and market strategies”, has published its final report. MIG has investigated the increasing role of the Port of Gdańsk as Baltic Sea region’s container hub as well if best practices from Gothenburg and Hamburg can be successfully implemented in Gdańsk.
Since 2007 container handlings in the Port of Gdańsk have been witnessing considerable increases – from below 100,000 20-foot boxes (TEU) back in 2007, through over 0.5 million TEU already three years later, to nearly 1.2 million TEU in 2013.
These dates correspond to the launching and development of the Deepwater Container Terminal Gdańsk (DCT), which officially kicked-off its operations in October 2007. In 2010, DCT began receiving Maersk Line’s direct oceangoing Far East weekly services of 8,000 TEU capacity container ships, only to see greater ‘E-class’ (up to 15,500 TEU per ship) in May 2011 and even bigger ‘Triple-Es’ (currently the world’s largest with 18,000 TEU of capacity) in 2013. Last year’s container turnover of DCT totaled 1.15 million TEU, making DCT the biggest box terminal in the Baltic Sea region.
With the help of Maersk’s ‘AE 10’ direct Asia-Europe container service, the Port of Gdańsk become a part of what has to date been called the ‘North Range’ ports (stretching from the French Le Havre to Hamburg in Germany), serving not only the economic development of Poland, but also eastern shores of the Baltic Sea region due to transhipment traffic.
As both new European Union-wide and Poland’s transport policies unfold (such as the updated Trans-European Transport Network, TEN-T, the Europe 2020 strategy, the Maritime Policy of the Republic of Poland until 2020 or the Pomorskie Voivodeship Development Strategy 2020) new opportunities emerge for container hubs, including also Gdańsk. Here hubs are designed to function as local, national and regional engines of growth.
Despite Gdańsk’s success and the fact that the harbor has been shortlisted as one of TEN-T core ports, the MIG study tables a few shortcomings Gdańsk needs to address. First and foremost, the quality of hinterland connections, particularly rail, must be improved in order to make Gdańsk a genuine multimodal spot for overland Central Eastern Europe shipments. Some best practices in this regards can be copied from Gothenburg (the ‘Railport Scandinavia’ shuttle system) and Hamburg (emphasis on highly efficient and on time combined sea-rail long-haul transports). Secondly, the logistics offer needs to be strengthened to make Gdańsk a value added port/city of choice. Thirdly, port investments red tape has to be cut to absolute minimum, thus making it easier to attract new parties ready to further develop Gdańsk port.
“The Port of Gdańsk constitutes a long-lasting value not only for the City of Gdańsk, but for the entire Baltic Sea region and Europe. Further development of Gdańsk port requires proper actions to meet economic, social and environmental goals. To make this come true, a long-term cooperation between local, national and regional authorities is needed.” -Urszula Kowalczyk, Head of the Economics and Law Department at the Maritime Institute Gdańsk
It is now up to the relevant stakeholders to take the advantage of the report’s findings to help Gdańsk in strengthening its role as a container hub port by implementing innovative transport and logistics solutions.