Transport and Logistics Conference 2014 in Oslo
Among the main issues discussed at the conference was the desire of the Norwegian government to get more freight transport by sea and rail. However, this requires more effective solutions that promote so-called "seamless" coordination between rail, road and sea. Speakers emphasized that given that transport of goods will increase the coming years, transport modes should not compete against each other, but rather interact to create an effective system that will make Norway as a country more competitive. Efficient and sustainable intermodal modes of transport play a major role in achieving this.
Focus was also on the central importance of transport terminals for effective interaction, both through ITS (intelligent transport systems) and systems and efficient transshipment facilities. Alternative measures for improvement could be to open for greater competition on the operational side of terminals, leaving the customer with more choices.
Related to these challenges the insufficient rail efficiency was discussed. It was said that the maintenance of existing rail network should be favored over flagship - projects such as infrastructure for high speed trains. This is connected to the fact that wholesalers keep their inventories on these rails and that problems associated with delays is a major barrier to Norwegian trade. Related to this, The Norwegian Transport Economics Institute (TØI) stated that it is uncertainty in itself that generate high expenses for rail transport. The need for having larger warehouses on different locations than originally intended due to uncertainty and delays is very expensive.
Hans Kristian Haram, general manager of Shortsea Promotion Centre, underlined the experience, that there is a positive development for value creation in local communities where companies are located geographically close to the Norway's many small ports. This also relates to one of the other major topics of discussion on the conference, related to the geographical placement of hubs of cargo and logistic activity. However, there seems to be an absence of interest in municipalities and cities to make way for large freight terminals.
At the closing of the conference transport minister Kjetil Solvik Olsen supported the need of the industry for a good infrastructure. Particularly this relate to better maintenance where the rail service needs prioritization. The minister was also confronted with the new directive concerning sulfur emissions for maritime industry. The directive was criticized to be counterproductive in promoting a cleaner environment. This relates to the increase of fuel costs that will make sea – transport more expensive and a less interesting for customers, further strengthening the incentives for choosing less environmentally friendly alternatives such as road transport.