Flexibility vs. specialisation in European short sea shipping
Paper in proceedings, 2010
Over the years, shipping has developed in phases where the main features of ships, the operational principles, the surrounding systems and the market offer have either been designed for a wide scope of transport demands or have been optimised to suit narrow demand characteristics. The trade-off between flexibility and specialisation implies delicate tasks for transport system designers and marketing managers. A particular type of compromise between transport demands is passenger and freight travel in the same vehicle or vessel.
The purpose of this article is to adapt theory on openness and controllability, characterise a selection of flexible and specialised European short sea shipping concepts and analyse how substantial changes in the future character of the competition with road and rail can affect the development of ferry shipping in the South Baltic Sea.
The central theoretical concepts in this article are commercial openness, technological openness, trade-offs and controllability. The analytical framework rests on a matrix, with commercial openness and technological open-ness on the axes, originally developed for analysing intermodal freight transport systems. The matrix is here used for categorising the four main short sea shipping segments using traditional single-deck bulk carriers: container feeder vessels, ferries, bulk carriers and tankers.
The ferry category is further analysed and divided into sub-segments in the empirical context of the South Baltic Sea. Foreseeable changes in key cost and competition parameters until 2020 are taken into account in discussing potential scenarios. A plausible outcome for the ferry/RoRo shipping segment is that one branch with relatively fast passenger ferries and one branch with slow and energy efficient freight services will be diverted from the current homogenous market offer.
short sea shipping