The role of regional ports in Europe's transport network

Policy leaders, industry representatives and academics from across the freight, logistics and transport sectors will gather at the Port of Ostend, Belgium on 10 October 2014 to discuss how regional ports have been optimising their operations to become more efficient and robust transport hubs.

The LO-PINOD (Logistics Optimisation for Ports Intermodality: Network, Opportunities, Development) project, part of Interreg IVB, has worked with partners from the North Sea Region Programme to encourage national and EU policy change that promotes sustainable freight distribution practices, including improved land and sea connections, and support for diversification of port operations.

Lali Virdee, Head of Programmes at lead partner organisation the Institute for Sustainability, said: "Regional ports are often overlooked as a sustainable option in the movement of goods across short distances. By enhancing port services, we have the opportunity to take cargo off congested roads and re-balance Europe's freight transport network."

By diversifying into new business areas, regional ports can remain competitive in the European transport network. Wim Stubbe, Business Development Manager at the Port of Ostend, commented: "From shore to vessel, the offshore wind and renewable energy sectors offer valuable opportunities for the maritime sector. Through LO-PINOD, regional ports have been taking advantage of this growing market to boost their local economies and employment."

Rémi Mayet, Deputy Head of the Ports Policy and Inland Waterways Unit at the European Commission, said: "In Europe, short-sea shipping is an essential part of the transport chains, carrying almost 40 per cent of intra-European freight. With increased climate change concerns and pressures on energy markets, regional ports have a crucial role to play as logistic stakeholders to widen transport choice and help the energy transition."

'The role of regional ports: transforming sustainable freight movement', will explore:

  • optimising port connections – how regional ports can establish local rail and inland shipping links to increase sustainable landside connections;
  • port diversification – opportunities to service the growing offshore wind market, cruise industry and new short-sea shipping routes, and the materials, training and port collaborations required;
  • regional integration – how ports can fulfil their potential and regain a more prominent and sustainable place in their local economy through master planning and actively involving local communities.

The plenary panel discussion will invite policy makers and industry representatives to explore the barriers and future opportunities for regional ports in discussion with conference attendees. Panellists include Isabelle Ryckbost, Secretary General European Sea Ports Organisation (ESPO), and Howard Holt, Managing Director of Seeports. To register, visit


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