Exploring the Northern Dimension

Economic trends reflected on the rails - new growth sought in Russian services

The Finnish VR Group is engaged in diverse and persevering collaboration with the Russian Railways (RZD). The common track gauge allows smooth rail transport between our two countries. The good and confidential relations between the railway companies promote business on both sides at all times.

The Allegro train started operations from Helsinki to St. Petersburg in 2010. It led to considerably faster passenger traffic between the countries. Allegro takes passengers from city centre to city centre in just 3.5 hours. Meanwhile, the Tolstoi night train operating between Helsinki and Moscow got new rolling stock last summer. The better-equipped cars, the upgraded train restaurant, and personal service are helping put night train travel on a new upward track.

Emerging Euro-Asian land and Arctic maritime trade routes open new business opportunities

The Northern Dimension Institute (NDI) organized the Northern Dimension Future Forum on Transport: Emerging trade routes between Europe and Asia – Impacts of China’s Belt and Road Initiative on Northern Europe on 20 November 2018 in Brussels. The event gathered over 60 participants, researchers, decision-makers and leading transport companies to discuss the future developments in land and Arctic maritime connections between Europe and Asia. The event featured two knowledge arenas of brief researcher presentations followed by comments and a moderated discussion. Ms. Cathy Smith from Speak-Easy moderated the event.

Professor Riitta Kosonen, Director of the Center for Markets in Transition, Aalto University, and the Lead Coordinator of the NDI, opened the event with an overview of the role of NDI in the Northern Dimension policy and supporting the work of the four Northern Dimension Partnerships. In November 2018, NDI organizes four Northern Dimension Future Forums in close collaboration with the ND Partnerships focusing on the jointly selected topics and the work is planned to continue through a three-year-project on a Northern Dimension Think Tank.

ND Future Forum on Transport Riitta Kosonen web
Riitta Kosonen, NDI Lead Coordinator

In his welcoming words, Mr. Oddgeir Danielsen, Director of the Northern Dimension Partnership on Transport and Logistics (NDPTL) underlined the need for evidence-based knowledge and better understanding of the opportunities, which the new trade routes between Europe and Asia can offer. In his presentation Mr. Danielsen showed a picture that gave something to think about. According to Mr. Danielsen, within that circle (highlighted in the picture below) is living more people than outside the circle and that is one reason why Belt and Route iniative has gained so much interest.

ND Future Forum on Transport Oddgeir Danielsen web
Oddgeir Danielsen, NDPTL

Mr. Gunnar Wiegand, Managing Director for Asia and Pacific, European External Action Service, European Commission, gave an overview of the EU approach to the potential and challenges of the emerging trade routes between Europe and Asia. In line with the newly launched Euro-Asian connectivity strategy, EU enhances multilateralism, sustainable, comprehensive, long-term and rules-based connectivity to ensure safety and prosperity for societies in Europe and Asia, China and India. EU strongly supports strengthening synergies, transparency and level playing field for companies and the key stakeholders in building cross-border connections and transport, energy, digital and human networks, also with Russia.

ND Future Forum on Transport Gunnar Wiegand web
Gunnar Wiegand, EEAS

Mr. Maxim Ilyukhin, Deputy Head of the Division of the International Cooperation Department, Ministry of Transport of the Russian Federation, introduced developments underway of the Euro-Asian transport links. The ongoing infrastructure developments aim at modernizing and expanding the mainland infrastructure and interconnection of regions, improving safety, sustainability and reliability in sea, railway and roads by 2024. Capacity and security of seaports are enhanced with transport of containers reduced to seven days. In total, 13 main railway routes are working in between Europe and Asia. Russian satellite system is utilized in developing digital system with additional services for transport, fully automated measurement and data collection system. Russia is open for constructive dialogue and the NDPTL Roadmap would provide possibilities to develop further the international collaboration in transport.

ND Future Forum on Transport Maxim Ilyukhin web
Maxim Ilykhin, Ministry of Transport, Russia

In the Knowledge Arena 1, the presentations focused on land connections between Europe and Asia. Dr. Gerhard Troche, Senior Scientific Researcher – Rail Freight and European Issues / EU Rail Freight Corridors, Royal Institute of Technology KTH, Sweden, gave an overview of the railway links between Europe and Asia, development trends, route options and challenges. In her presentation, Dr. Elena Rovenskaya, Program Director, International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis IIASA, Austria, focused on challenges and opportunities of the transportation developments and economic cooperation between the EU, the Eurasian Economic Union, China and other key Asian actors.

Mr. Tero Kosonen from the Finnish national railway company VR Transpoint, introduced the cross-border traffic to Russia and the railway corridor from Finland via Russia to Asia, lessons learnt and future developments. Mr. Ainis Stūrmanis, Vice-president, SJSC Latvian Railways, Latvia, highlighted the Latvian Railway logistic routes and opportunities for developing multimodal routes between Europe and China. Mr. Viktor Golomolzin, Head of the Kaliningrad Railways, JSC Russian Railways, introduced transport and logistics potential and capabilities of the Kaliningrad region including multimodal transit via seaport and railway to China.

In the moderated discussion, commentators, Mr. Risto Murto, Development Manager from the Finnish Transport Agency and Ms. Merja Kyllönen, Member of European Parliament, pointed out that increasing trade volumes and infrastructure developments increase interest in railroad transport between Europe and China. This creates needs for new services, better knowledge and information, inclusion of all the key stakeholders in further developments.

In the Knowledge Arena 2, the speakers focused on highlighting Arctic Maritime Connections. Associate Professor Bjørn Gunnarsson from the Centre for High North Logistics (CHNL) at Nord University Business School, Bodø, Norway, introduced ship traffic analysis on the Northern Sea Route (NSR) until 2017 and developments in the transport and logistics system. Project Manager Piia Heliste from the Aalto University gave an outlook to the business views about the shipping in the NSR. According to the companies and experts, key incentives for using the NSR are connected to the time and fuel savings. Future role of the NSR as an international transit route depends on factors such as natural conditions, infrastructure developments, additional costs of the Arctic shipping, and the overall unpredictability of the route.

Mr. Leonid Irlitsa, captain of nuclear icebreaker of the Rosatomflot, introduced developments of the Russian atomic icebreaking fleet for support of Arctic navigation. General Manager Mr. Carsten Andersen from the Nordic Bulk Carriers A/S, Denmark highlighted experiences from the NSR as one of the first companies to open the NSR for commercial purposes on dry cargo vessels since 2010. Mr. Hafsteinn Helgason, Business Development and R&D Director from the EFLA Consulting Engineers, Iceland, introduced the Finnafjord public-private-partnership project in large transport infrastructure development in Iceland.

In the moderated discussion, Ms. Marie-Anne Coninsx, Ambassador at Large for Arctic Affairs of the European Union, underlined the increasing economic interests in the Arctic. This has impact on global shipping industry as well as political relations with Russia and China. The challenge in the Arctic is to balance between the economic possibilities and environmental sustainability. Ms. Magda Kopczynska, Director, DG for Mobility and Transport, pointed out that the IMO International Code for Ships Operating in Polar Waters (Polar Code) provides legal framework for international collaboration to ensure sustainability in the Arctic shipping. According to Ms. Tone Cecilia Lang, Councellor, Mission of Norway to the European Union, 80 % of the Arctic shipping passes Norwegian waters. In the maritime strategies, Norway prioritizes maritime safety and rescue services as well as environmental sustainability.

ND Future Forum on Transport second knowledge arena web
Knowledge Arena 2, Cathy Smith, Carsten Andersen, Leonid Irlitsa, Hafsteinn Helgason, Bjørn Gunnarsson, Piia Heliste, Marie-Anne Coninsx, Magda Kopczynska and Tone Cecilia Lang

The event was organized by the Northern Dimension Institute together with the Northern Dimension Partnership on Transport and Logistics and financed by the European Commission/DG NEAR and the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland.
The Northern Dimension Institute is a an open university network, which is coordinated by the Aalto University in Helsinki, Finland, as the Lead Coordinator in cooperation with the Northern (Arctic) Federal University and the St Petersburg State University of Economics in Russia.

Programme of the event can be found here(pdf).

Webcasts from the ND Future Forum on Transport and the ND Future Forum on Environment are available below:

The webcast is available until 20 May 2019.

Presentations made in the forum are available below (pdfs).

Opening presentation, Mr. Oddgeir Danielsen, Director, Northern Dimension Partnership on Transport and Logistics
Perspective Development of Euro-Asian Transport Links, Mr. Maxim Ilyukhin, Deputy Head of the Division of the International Cooperation Department, Ministry of Transport of the Russian Federation, Russia

Knowledge Arena 1: Land connections between Europe and Asia
Transit Potential of Kaliningrad Railway, Mr. Victor Golomolzin, Head of the Kaliningrad Railways, JSC Russian Railways, Russia
Railway links between Europe and Asia, Dr. Gerhard Troche, Senior Scientific Researcher – Rail Freight and European Issues / EU Rail Freight Corridors, Royal Institute of Technology KTH, Sweden
Challenges and Opportunities of the Transportation Developments and Economic Integration Processes in the Greater Eurasia, Dr. Elena Rovenskaya, Program Director, International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis IIASA, Austria
Railway Corridor Finland-Asia, Mr. Tero Kosonen, Director Sales & Marketing, VR Transpoint, Finland
Asia from/ to Europe railway network – shorten the distance. The new Silk route – opportunities for European railway network, Mr. Ainis Stūrmanis, Vice-president, SJSC Latvian Railways, Latvia

Knowledge Arena 2: Arctic Maritime Connections
Ship Traffic Analysis on the NSR and development of the NSR’s Transport and Logistics System, Mr. Bjørn Gunnarsson, Associate Professor, Centre for High North Logistics (CHNL) at Nord University Business School, Bodø, Norway
Business views on the Northern Sea Route, Ms. Piia Heliste, Project Manager, Aalto University, Finland
Atomic icebreaking fleet development for support of Arctic navigation, Mr. Leonid Irlitsa, Captain of nuclear icebreaker, Rosatomflot, Russia
Experiences from the Northern Sea Route, Mr. Carsten Andersen, General Manager, Nordic Bulk Carriers A/S, Denmark
Public-private-partnerships in large infrastructure projects: Case Finna Fjord, Mr. Hafsteinn Helgason, Business Development and R&D Director, EFLA Consulting Engineers, Iceland

EU Commission releases report on the development of the rail market

The European Commission adopted the fifth report on the development of the European rail market. The report shows that EU legislation on rail, which encourages competitiveness and market opening, has led to a more efficient and customer-responsive industry. In Member States where rail markets are opened, competition can result overall in lower fares for customers and better value for taxpayers. After adoption of the 4th Railway Package, the focus of the Commission will be on the implementation of existing legislation to bring about further performance improvement.

Download the full report on Commission webpage.

Finding joint solutions to transboundary challenges in the Northern Dimension

The Northern Dimension (ND) is nowadays one of the most effective forward-looking formats of regional and trans-border cooperation. The results and achievements of the ND, i.e. better environmental situation in the Baltic and Barents seas, new cultural ties and promotion of cultural industries, improvements in public health protection in the ND area and resolved transport problems, are also well known due to active position of the NDI and its Newsflash, which deserve all the support.

Finnish maritime industries will create an ecosystem for autonomous marine transport

The objective of the ecosystem is to create the world’s first autonomous marine transport system to the Baltic Sea. Ships will be fully autonomous in 2025. The first pilots and applications in months to come are cargo ships and freight.

There are almost 60 companies in the ecosystem through Finnish Marine Industries Association. The largest investors are Cargotec, Ericsson, Meyer Turku, Rolls-Royce, Tieto, and Wärtsilä. About half of the ecosystem’s funding comes from Tekes – the Finnish Funding Agency for Innovation.

Read more about the project on DIMECC website.

Funding available to support transport projects

From 30 October 2017, you can apply for funding under the 2018-2020 Horizon 2020 Work Programme through three calls that are open for proposal submission. The total available funding is €267 million.

Open calls:

  • Calls on Mobility for Growth (two stages and single stage)
  • Call on Automated Road Transport
  • Call on Green Vehicles

These calls are part of the Smart, Green and Integrated Transport Challenge.

The specific focus of these three calls is to support research and innovation activities in relation with low-carbon and sustainable transport; automated road transport; electrified vehicles; safe and resilient transport systems; European industrial leadership as well as behavioural issues and user needs for mobility solutions.

For more information, please see INEA's website.

Horizon 2020 Transport Info day Wednesday, 13 Dec 2017, Brussels

The info daywill take place in the morning of 13 December 2017 in Brussels. It will address potential applicants to the Horizon 2020 'Smart, green and integrated transport'calls for funding under the 2018 – 2020 Horizon 2020 Work Programme, with the focus on funding opportunities in 2018.

About the event
Presentations will cover various transport topics of the new Horizon 2020 Work Programme, as well as provide detailed information on the selection process and on the upcoming calls for funding.

A brokerage event will be organised by the National Contact Points and will take place in the afternoon.

The draft agenda will be published soon.

The registration for the info day will open in mid-October. Stay tuned!

Event date and venue
Wednesday, 13 December in the European Commission's Charlemagne Building, Rue de la Loi 170, 1000 Brussels

Presentations covering the 2018-2020 Horizon 2020 Work Programme will take place in the morning.

A brokerage event will take place in the afternoon.

Improving the accessibility of the Baltic Sea Region. The kick-off conference for three EU projects

The kick-off conference for three EU projects: NSB CoReScandria 2Act and TENTacle projects was held on April 7th at Kalastajatorppa in Helsinki and gathered for about one hundred participants. These three projects start their cooperation in order to develop the EU TEN-T Core Network Corridors intersecting the Baltic Sea Region.

The project North Sea Baltic Connector of Regions, NSB CoRe is led by the Helsinki-Uusimaa Regional Council from Finland, and  it aims to improve the sustainable accessibility of the Eastern Baltic Sea Region (EBSR) to freight and passenger transport.

The Scandria2Act is a project developing the northern sections of the Core Network Corridor from Scandinavia to the Mediterranean, prioritizing energy efficient solutions in freight and passenger transports. The TENTacle project focuses on the accessibility of peripheral regions in the Baltic Sea Region by developing their connections to the Core Network Corridors.

These three-year projects NSB CoRe, Scandria2Act and TENTacle have been approved by the Interreg Baltic Sea Region Programme.

To get more information about the conference and the projects, please visit Helsinki-Uusimaa Regional Council web page.

Integration Potential of Logistics in the Global Economy

NDI coordinator St. Petersburg State University of Economics (UNECON) organized a conference "Integration potential of Logistics in the global economy" on 25 September 2014. The Conference brought together researchers, business and policy makers to discuss issues ranging from logistics corridor developments to the need of integrated solutions to increase the efficiency of logistics in Russia. The impacts of the current trade restrictions on supply chains were in focus.

Lund University: New app makes the transport industry transparent

Swedish road freight companies that abide by work environment legislation, taxation regulations and environmental agreements have had a hard time surviving on a market where illegal transport operators can perform the same services at a much lower cost. A new app being developed at Lund University in Sweden makes the entire chain of transport visible to consumers.

The app is based on blockchain technology, which means that the transported products leave digital tracks at every stop they make on their way to the customer. The information is then collected in a database that is visible to all who are links in the chain, including the customer in the store.

Read the whole story on Lund University website.

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