During the EMMA Extension project, several pilot sailings by IWW vessels have taken place in Lithuania, where the main inland waterway is river Nemunas and Curonian lagoon from Kaunas to Klaipeda. Before the EMMA Extension, there had not been any cargo transportations by inland waterway vessels from Klaipeda seaport.
The first commercial sailings between Klaipeda-Kaunas-Klaipeda by barge took place in spring 2019 when, in total, 33 containers were delivered. In May 2019, sailings continued with the transportation of 38 containers. At the end of May and early June 2019, 20 more containers were transported. Altogether 91 containers were transported by inland waterways and the total distance travelled was 1400 kilometres.
Following these first test runs, the Lithuanian government has provided funding for improving inland waterways. This includes 2,6 million euros’ investments for purchase of machinery for maintenance works in 2020 – 2021 and investments worth 27 million euros for E41 fairway modernisation works in 2021 – 2023, increasing the depth of inland waterway. In addition to containers, the future aim is to move also other type of transportations into inland waterways, including transportations of grain, scrap metal and other bulk cargo.
The fourth sailing in spring 2021 was therefore a huge success as the most powerful autotransformer in the Baltic States was delivered to Lithuania for company Litgrid (Lithuanian electricity transmission system operator). After being assembled and tested, it was transported to the port of Derince by the Sea of Marmara and loaded on the ship which brought the autotransformer to Lithuania after covering more than 7 000 km via the Sea of Marmara, the Mediterranean Sea, the Atlantic Ocean and the Baltic Sea.
Domestic transportation of a huge cargo weighing 164 tons is an unusual event for Lithuania. After the delivery to Klaipeda, the autotransformer was loaded onto a barge at the Klaipeda container terminal. It took three days for the barge of the Inland waterways authority to transport the autotransformer through the Curonian Lagoon and the Nemunas river to Kaunas Marvele Cargo port. In Kaunas, the cargo was transferred to a 39-meter long trailer and special platform assembly, which, assisted by another trailer, was transported to the LitPol Link converter station in Alytus district.
In the media it was stated the arrival of a 164-tonne autotransformer was a crucial step towards energy security, as the transformer will allow power to arrive from neighbouring Poland to Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania via the LitPol link. (https://www.lrt.lt/naujienos/lietuvoje/2/1409029/baltics-step-closer-toleaving-moscow-controlled-power-grid)
In addition to successful pilots that have gained a great media attention in Lithuania, The EMMA Extension pilot cruises have helped to identify the areas that need to be fixed when it comes to cargo transportation by inland waterway vessels. For instance, in 2021, the Klaipeda seaport will upgrade their computer systems to include inland waterway vessels for cargo operations. Furthermore, a container distribution terminal will be built in Kaunas and a new barge is expected to be built and commissioned in 2021.
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Published news in English:
SE Lithuanian inland waterways authority
Head of Inland Waterways and Hydrotechnical Buildings Department
Phone: +370 645 50897