Barents Freeway – a Step towards the Joint Barents Transport Strategy

Based on the Barents Transport Strategy, the transport infrastructure can be developed to respond to new challenges that arise in the Arctic and Northern periphery. The general outcome of the strategy work, made in the Barents Freeway project, is that the Barents Region is perceived as a whole with the common strategic objectives of the transport system development.

 

The Barents Freeway project was launched in September 2012 by agreement between the Joint Management Administration of the Kolarctic ENPI CBC Programme 2007-2013 and the Lead Partner, Lapland Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment. The project, mainly completed in December 2014, has 10 partners and 10 associated partners from all the BEAC member states: Russia, Finland, Sweden and Norway. Financing of the 1.4 million euro joint effort has been provided by the EU, the four Barents Region countries and the project partners.

 

An important starting point of the project was the Joint Barents Transport Plan (adopted by the Ministries of Transport of the Barents Countries in 2013), in which 14 multimodal border-crossing transport corridors were defined.

 

Why the Barents Transport Strategy?

The main objective of the Barents Freeway project was the economic and social improvement of local communities in the Barents Region through formulating the Barents regional-level Transport Strategy, which serves as a regional-level perspective for the ongoing national-level transport strategy works. Based on the strategy, the transport infrastructure can be developed in order to respond to new challenges that arise in the Arctic and Northern periphery now and in the future.

 

Traditionally all the states have had their own national strategies within their borders. As the authorities at all levels are encouraged to cooperate, the approach could eventually contribute to the reduction of border constraints and accessibility to regional, national and international markets. More specifically, the effort will enhance the transit potential of the Barents Region and integrate it better with the European TEN-T network on the other hand and the Eurasian road, rail and maritime corridors on the other. The Barents Freeway project has been carried out in close cooperation with the national level BEATA steering group and the NDPTL (Northern Dimension Partnership on Transport and Logistics) authorities.

 

How the Strategy was produced?

The two-stage procurement process to find a main consultant for the project was finalized in April 2013 when Pöyry Finland Ltd. consultant group started its work. The three main phases of the work were:

  1. Extensive data collection about global trends and transport tendencies,
  2. Modern methods of transport modeling and strategy development methods applied by the Barents Region professionals and
  3. Detailed feasibility studies carried out about four new railway corridors and one east-west aviation scheme.

 

The freight transport model (Frisbee) was used to forecast cargo flows, and particularly to analyze different railway variants in the region. After calibrating the Frisbee model with the most recent data the freight flows for the year 2030 were possible to analyze.


Outcome of the work

Altogether five pilot studies (will be published later on BarentsInfo) were carried out during the project.

  • Air Taxi Pilot study  includes an overview of the aviation sector in the Barents Region with identification of potential new flight connections.
  • Salla - Kandalaksha Railway Pilot study examines existing railway sections Kemijärvi - Kelloselkä (79 km) on the Finnish side and Alakurtti - Ruchy Karelskye (100 km) on the Russian side.
  • Nikel - Kirkenes Railway Pilot study has an existing rail section Murmansk - Nikel (196 km) on the Russian side. The section Zapolyarny - Kirkenes (56 km) has been planned as a new railway.
  • Kemijärvi - Kirkenes Railway Pilot study traverses close to environmentally sensitive areas. The alignment chosen for the study starts from Kemijärvi and bypasses the Lake Inari on its west side. The railway is 456 km long, 30 km of that in Norway.
  • Kolari - Svappavaara (Narvik) Railway Pilot study, with a total railway length 147 km, has 16 km in Finland and the rest in Sweden.

The general outcome of the strategy work is that the Barents Region is perceived as a whole with the common strategic objectives of the transport system development. The strategy work ended up recommending among other things the following for the Barents Region:

  • A far more intensive integration of the logistics systems between the countries.
  • Transport routes across the borders to be highlighted in regional and national decision-making.
  • Innovative approaches, which contribute to the efficiency of freight and people movements, to be forcefully promoted.
  • Heightened attention to be paid to the maintenance of the existing infrastructure.

In addition, specific recommendations were made for all transport modes including intermodal transport, water transport, railways and roads as well as aviation. On behalf of the Russian partners the project also managed an equipment procurement process with several countries and parties involved.

Text by Juha Hyvärinen and Ulla Alapeteri

BarentsRailways.jpg

Main Railways of the Barents Region and surroundings


SallaKandalakshaRailwayPilot.jpg

Salla – Kandalaksha Railway Pilot study between Finnish and Russian

 

KolariSvappavaaraRailway.jpg

Kolari  Svappavaara (Narvik) Railway Pilot study,
with a total railway length 147 km between Finland and Sweden

 

KemijärviKirkenesRailway.jpg

Kemijärvi - Kirkenes Railway Pilot study between Finland and Norway traverses close to environmentally sensitive areas


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