Containers and cruise lines

Helsingborg sits on one of Sweden’s most important harbour locations. Located at the narrowest bypass of the Öresund – the stretch of water separating Zealand and Sweden – it is a key juncture for trade routes between the Baltic and the North Sea, one of the busiest maritime routes in the world. The Port of Helsingborg is thus one of the busiest ports in Northern Europe: a 13.5 metre draft, extensive containerhandling facilities, excellent multimodal transport connections and year-round ice-free operation has led to it become an essential component of the international logistics market.

Helsingborg is today Sweden’s second largest container port with more 300,000 20 foot equivalent units (TEUs) passing through annually and this number increases every year. In order to meet the growing demands on its facilities, the Port of Helsingborg recently announced the expansion of its West Harbour where much of the container traffic occurs. Built in 1985, West Harbour is the newest of five harbours but has rapidly gained ground as the Port’s most successful.

Currently it comprises two basins with four quays of nine to 13 metres depth. This is served by three tracked and two mobile container cranes. Situated next to West Harbour is the Combiterminal, a multimodal logistics hub that opened in 2005. It offers 28,000 square metres of work area as well as road and rail routes to and from the port: several train operators run daily services to many major Swedish cities including Stockholm, Göteborg and Gälve.

With container cargo proving to be the fastest growing segment in maritime logistics at four to six per cent per year, Port of Helsingborg recently re-evaluated the capabilities of West Harbour and decided that it would need furtherdevelopment to maintain its relevance over the next two decades. A competition was held in which companies submitted their plans on the best way to achieve this goal: 14 proposals were submitted and from these four have been chosen for further discussion. The proposals are from Ramboll Sweden, COWI, WSP Sweden AAB & WSP Africa Coastal Engineers, and Arkitektfirmae CF Møller & Berg Architects.

The winner of these four teams will be decided in 2012, at which point they will enter a collaborative agreement with Port of Helsingborg to shape a proposal that will ensure West Harbour and the port’s future development. The final plan will focus on rebuilding the harbour to improve the volume of containers handled and the efficiency and speed with which they are processed.

Containers are not the only cargo handled by the Port of Helsingborg, however. The North Harbour is primarily geared toward passenger ferry traffic on a route that crosses the Öresund and terminates at the Danish port of Helsingör. Scandlines offers journeys for passengers and vehicles from three roll-on/roll-off (RoRo) berths’ whilst Sundsbussarna offers foot-only passengers trips from the nearby Old Customs House.

South Harbour is a comprehensive stop for many different types of cargo, though this area is mainly focused on RoRo traffic with, for example, SOL lines with six departures per week as well as storage and stuff/strip center. There is also a grain terminal complete with 250,000 tonne storage silo that is operated by the Swedish Farmers’ Supply and Crop Marketing Association. The port’s southernmost harbour is actually Bulk Terminal, which was built in 1991 specifically for chemical manufacturer Kemira Kemi.

Over the last decade Helsingborg has also grown as a tourist destination for people from across Europe and the world, particularly as a cruise destination. The port has, therefore, become an important stop for many cruise lines; Port of Helsingborg has facilitated this by engaging with marketing and awareness initiatives. Cruise Europe is one such example – the organisation counts more than a hundred ports as members, including Europe’s major tourist destinations, and helps to promote the interests each has whilst making improving networks between the lot. Port of Helsingborg has been a member of this for many years now, as well as subset Baltic Cruise Ports that focuses specifically on 15 Baltic destinations.

Through this Port of Helsingborg has developed the city as a cruise destination alternative to Europe’s popular but predictable capital cities for American, German and British lines in particular. On October 17th 2011, representatives from the company undertook a sales tour of the US in order to market the city further. In 2011 a total of 7500 passengers from nine calls passed through the port whilst 10,000 from five large cruise liners are expected in 2012. Port of Helsingborg hopes to encourage even greater numbers in 2013.

The full scope of business for the port – including cruise, as previously shown – has been booming over the last two years. After severe drops in 2009, during the worst of the global financial crisis, 2010 proved fruitful across the board. The improvement in containers was particularly impressive, increasing by 68 per cent when measured in TEUs; rail traffic also increased by 25 per cent by the end of 2010. By the midway point of 2011, figures had increased once again: at 142,625 TEUs delivered by maritime traffic it was 81,879 TEUs more than the similar period for 2010. Including road and rail traffic the first half of 2011 saw 225,645 TEUs handled by the port, which is an increase of 40.4 per cent on the first half of 2010. This illustrates that more and more shipping companies are choosing Port of Helsingborg to work with, a decision that is due to the company’s efforts in maintaining high quality facilities and efficient yet friendly customer service.

One particular area of growth has been in rail transport, which Port of Helsingborg attributes to clients’ increasing commitments to reducing environmental impact. The Combiterminal has therefore become an increasingly important aspect of the port. At the moment it handles approximately 75,000 units per year but was built with a capacity of up to 120,000 units, meaning the building still has plenty of scope for growing throughput; consequently, investment into Combiterminal’s environmental credentials will form an integral part of the West Harbour redevelopment programme.

Looking forwards, then, the future for Port of Helsingborg and the port itself looks bright. Cargofigures are on the rise and the rising awareness of the city as a destination for tourism means that the port is receiving rapidly increasing numbers of passengers as well. The redevelopment of West Harbour will ensure the future comes as an opportunity rather than a ukchallenge and will reinforce the port as one of North Europe’s most important maritime locations.

Soon to begin huge harbour redevelopment
Experiencing rapidly increasing cargo and passenger numbers
Important geographical location