Project Management Support to the Midway Alignment of the Bothnian Corridor

The Midway Alignment of the Bothnian Corridor is a vital, year-round maritime transport connection between Sweden and Finland. The project includes a complete transport system for both goods and passengers and was initiated by the city of Umeå in Sweden and the city of Vaasa in Finland. SSPA has been awarded the role of project management, functioning as the main support for the project coordinator, which means supporting and cooperating with running the project during 2014 and 2015. The link connects to three major roads classified by the UNECE a s European roads of strategic importance – the E12, the E4 and the E8 – and to the recently built Bothnian Link main railway line. It also supports and complements the Priority Projects and the Core and Comprehensive Network of the European Union. The project is upgrading the transport route to fulfil national and international requirements for an environmentally and economically sustainable transport system with increased multi-modality and higher transport security.

Project objectives

  • Improving the environmental and economic performance of port operations and the regional logistics system.
  • Increasing market attractiveness.
  • Securing long-term operational stability.
  • Introducing innovative technologies and solutions, as well as disseminating best practices within the European Union.
  • Designing and developing a new ferry for the Kvarken Strait.

SSPA taking a central role

SSPA has been awarded the role as Project Manager for implementing the project. This means that SSPA’s experts will closely follow, monitor and support the implementation of activities and supervise the work with the Project Management team during the first phase, until the end of 2015. Some of the activities that SSPA will be closely involved with are the project analyses, the concept development and the design of the ferry.

Project phases

The project is divided into two separate but linked phases:
Phase 1 – 2012–2015: Preparatory activities and feasibility studies, concept development for an improved transport link and land/port infrastructure, design of a new, preferably LNG-driven, eco-friendly ferry with sufficient icebreaking capacity, Budget EUR 20.7 million.
Phase 2 – 2016-2018: Construction of the ferry, land-based infrastructure construction including LNG transportation and storage, implementing the logistics system and operations, reporting of results and findings.

The Midway Alignment project is financed by municipal, regional and national financers from Finland and Sweden, private companies and the European Union TEN-T Call funds.

The maritime link Umeå–Vaasa provides an important connection in the EU from west to east. As a spin-off effect, it also facilitates trade with markets such as Norway, the Baltic countries, Eastern Europe and Russia. The strong historical and cultural bonds between the northern regions of Sweden, Norway and Finland go back centuries. The region has shared leadership, trade, communications and culture. Ferry traffic between the countries has
existed uninterrupted for more than 50 years. 

The social exchange across Kvarken is of great importance, as individuals are given the possibility to live, work, study or travel freely across the borders. These parts of Sweden and Finland are areas with high growth rates, hosting several large, international companies. The regions of Umeå and Vaasa are among the most dynamic and rapidly expanding regions in their respective countries.

The proposed action will help to shift traffic from road to sea and rail by interconnecting two national rail networks and by bypassing more than 800 km of the existing road route. This also implies positive effects on service quality and safety. Operators, cargo owners and the general public all stand to gain. The time saved using the ferry instead of the road around the Gulf of Bothnia will increase the efficiency and competitiveness in the transport sector. It will also help to save the environment. Fuel consumption and emissions will be reduced considerably when trucks take the maritime route instead.

The ferry itself can be built for a practically emission-free operation. The goal is to design a modern vessel to meet the needs of both passengers and transport companies. Choosing liquefied natural gas (LNG) as the fuel and constructing the vessel using innovative material and technology means a lighter but stronger vessel, which is less energy-intensive. This vessel will easily meet the IMO’s MARPOL Annex IV requirements on Sulphur Emission Control Areas (SECA) in the Baltic Sea. One of the purposes of the project will be to spread information effectively about technical, operational, safety-related, environmental solutions and financial aspects of implementing the Midway Alignment of the Bothnian Corridor. All things learned will be a valuable common asset for decision-makers in the future.