Freight forwarding can be challenging in Norway, given that the mountainous terrain, intercut with deep valleys and fjords, can make internal transport and freight services difficult in the harsh winters.
However, the freight transport infrastructure in Norway continues to evolve to meet the challenges of the local geography and climate, with the use of transport by sea and waterways particular significant.
A recent report by the Norwegian Centre for Transport Research has been a spur to development as it identified that the international freight transport infrastructure should be improved to provide better access to domestic and international markets, saying that business was being held back by the transport infrastructure even in more urbanised areas..
There are now a number of improvements being made to the freight transport infrastructure, notably to the railway network by the state owned operator, NSB, which has invested in improving rolling stock and line speeds. The 4000 kilometre railroad system connects Oslo with Bergen and Stavanger as well as other larger towns and Sweden and full use is made of these by the freight company. A high speed rail connection also connects the international airport at Gardemoen, north of Oslo.
The railway is concentrated in the south of Norway, whilst most of the north is dependent on freight transport by road, air or boat.
The mountainous terrain is one reason why air transport is very important to the freight company in Norway. The air transport infrastructure is highly developed with no less than 58 airports in the country, nearly half of which are state owned.
The road network of some 57,000 miles is concentrated round the more populated areas, especially around Oslo.
But it is in the quality and breadth of its shipping and boat transport that Norway really stands out
Norway is heavily dependent on shipping and in fact it is one of the foremost shipping countries globally, with Norwegian merchant shipping companies owning 10% of the world’s total fleet. The fleet of offshore service ships is the second largest in the world, due to the size of Norway’s oil and gas industry. Norwegian shipping companies also control 25% of the passenger cruise boats in the world and 20% of chemical tankers and gas carriers worldwide.
Shipping is the lynchpin of the freight forwarding system in Norway. There are many ice-free harbours along the coast. The north and west coasts between the Russian border and Bergen make up a vital international freight route from the Atlantic into the Arctic Ocean.
It is a little known fact that Norway is the world’s biggest exporter of oil after Saudi Arabia and Russia. This position has helped consolidate the country’s expertise, with many a specialist shipping company.
However, shipping is also vital on a smaller scale within Norway, with local ferry services a crucial means of transport throughout the country, even in the urban areas of Oslo and Bergen.
Norway has developed its transport infrastructure and freight services in ways that not only overcome the challenges created by its interior geography, but has also embraced the opportunities presented by its natural harbours and waterways.
Norway is truly a blueprint for the successful development of shipping companies worldwide.