The growing potential of Multimodal Transport

Article written together with Danske Rederier (Danish Shipowners Association)  

More and more companies move the transportation of goods from road to sea. That makes for a safer, more financial and sustainable supply chain. 

Trucks need to come off the European roads and goods need to be transported in containers by sea instead. By doing so, money is saved, the environment is less affected and limitations from driving and resting regulations, lack of truck drivers, border controls, cabotage insurance, etc. are avoided all the while your goods are less exposed to risks like theft and damages. When transporting by sea, your goods might take an extra day or two to arrive but that doesn’t matter when you avoid all the above-mentioned challenges occurring when transporting by land.

“We are experiencing a growth three or four times larger within our shortsea/multimodal services compared to the usual trade in this area,” says Jesper Kristensen, CEO at Unifeeder, and continues:

“First and foremost, I think the growth is a result of increased knowledge. More people know that shortsea exists. Furthermore, companies can save a lot of money and as a society, it is also in everybody’s interest to move goods from road to sea as it reduces the emission of CO2 and the congestions on the roads.”

The financial benefits occur because shortsea in most cases requires less labour which affects costs per tons. Unifeeder’s vessels can carry up to 1000 containers which means, for every full vessel the European roads are less congested, and the level of air pollution is also significantly decreased.

As a pioneer within the green transition, it is important that Denmark grows the shortsea industry says Danske Rederider and refers to a study made by COWI which shows, that CO2 emission can be reduced by half if the goods are transported by sea and not roads over a certain distance. According to the study, a truck emits approximately 18 kg CO2 per ton of goods when transported from Aarhus(Denmark) to Hamburg (Germany). For the same distance, a ship will emit under half of that CO2 per tons of goods.

“Sea freight is often the most energy-efficient form of transportation and it is crucial that we get better at utilizing this knowledge, also when transporting goods over short distances from neighboring countries,” says Jacob K. Clausen, Director of Industrial Policies and Analysis, and continues:“The Danish shipping lines are already front runners within shortsea and we have several members who have succeeded in converting road transportation to sea within the last couple of years. We must draw on these positive experiences so we can get more goods on the water in the future.”

Shortsea is not only short distances as the name might suggest. Unifeeder’s network stretches from Ireland to Russia and from the Alps to the Norwegian fjords so shortsea can replace or be combined with other forms of transportation to create a sustainable supply chain solution. It is a very flexible way of moving goods.

''I am confident, that Shortsea shipping will experience rapid growth over the coming years. Partially because there is an economic incentive in terms of supply chains, but also because it taps into many of the trends that surround us today '' 

Jesper Kristensen, CEO of Unifeeder

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