NABL (Northern Axis Barents Link) Project is Coming to End

  • The project final meeting in Narvik focused on Arctic logistics solutions and the wind power potential

On April 20-21, 2022, the delegation of the Regional Council of Kainuu took part in the final meeting of Northern Axis – Barents Link (NABL) project in Narvik, Norway. There were present project partners from the Local Federation of East Lapland, the Finnish Transport Infrastructure Agency, the Arctic University of Norway and Futurum AS (Norway). Representatives of the International Barents Secretariat and the Barents Region Transport and Logistics (BRTL), another Barents Region project managed by the Regional Council of Kainuu, attended the event remotely.

The meeting focused on the Arctic region transport and logistics solutions as well as the wind energy potential. During the NABL project, a number of rail studies have been carried out to identify transport bottlenecks in the Arctic and the so-called Northern Axis transport corridor. One of the examples is the Ofotbanen – Malmbanan railway capacity.

Project partners from Norway have carried out a study on the feasibility and impact of the Ofotbanen – Malmbanan double-track railway between Norway and Sweden. The Ofotbanen – Malmbanan line is about 500 km long starting in Luleå (Sweden) and ending in the port of Narvik. The Norwegian part of the line is called Ofotbanen and the Swedish part – Malmbanan. This name derives from history, as much of the track’s capacity has been used for years for ore exports. According to the NABL study, increasing the capacity and availability of the line would result in goods being shifted from road to rail. In addition to Norwegian and Swedish companies, Northern Finland companies could also potentially use the transport corridor in their own supply chains.

Sweden and Norway have the same track gauges and smooth traffic, Finland has a different gauge. This challenge is being addressed, for example, through the Laurila – Tornio – Haaparanta project aiming to harmonize the Finnish and Swedish rail networks.  Recently, there has been much discussion about the extension of the TEN-T core network corridor and this project is one of the planned extensions of the core network corridor. Several important international transport corridors in Northern Finland and Sweden pass through the region, connecting the Barents Region to the Central European Transport Corridor and onward to the Far East. The route through Sweden is one of the options for future transport of Finland’s foreign trade.

Another topic discussed at the meeting was the wind power potential in the Arctic region. In future, the sparsely populated northern regions may play an increasing role in the wind power production. The planning and impact assessment of wind energy production varies from country to country, depending on legislation and guidelines. The SafeWind project, where the Regional Council of Kainuu is a partner, is examining environmental impact assessment processes in different countries and aims to share good practices.

One of the meeting’s major messages was the commonalities between the conditions of our Arctic neighbors. This also means similar challenges, which will help us to work together to overcome them.

To see the other studies carried out in the project, click the link below!

Project Reports on the Site of Regional Council of Kainuu