Lead Beneficiary


PROBLEMS OF DOMESTIC OVERSIZE CARGO TRANSPORT related to the transport in THE South Baltic Region

Oversize cargo,

Anna GALOR[1]
Wiesław Galor[2]


PROBLEMS OF DOMESTIC OVERSIZE CARGO TRANSPORT related to the transport in THE South Baltic Region

The paper presents problems of oversize cargo carried by various modes of transport, relevant legal instruments and problems that carriers face during the preparation and transport of extremely heavy and/or huge pieces of cargo in Poland. The international program Oversize Baltic will be described. The program aims at the standardization of procedures connected with the carriage of oversize cargo pieces in the South Baltic Region. 


The European Union policy, formulated by the Treaty establishing the European Community, aims at enhancing its economic, social and territorial cohesion by increasing the level of such cohesion in its regions [7]. An increase of the economic cohesion consists in reducing the differences in the levels of economic development between rich and poor regions. Strengthening the social cohesion requires that differences in the use of human potential across various areas are decreased, while strengthening the territorial cohesion is achieved by eliminating the existing barriers of access to less favoured peripheral regions by binding them more with regions of the Central Europe. The territorial cohesion is measured by travelling time to a given area by air, road and rail.

In the years 2007-2013 cross-border, transnational and interregional co-operation will continue to be implemented within activities aimed a separate goal of EU’s cohesion policy. This goal is referred to as European Territorial Co-operation (ETC). Its implementation will be supported by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). ETC 2007-2013 is a continuation of the Community Initiative INTERREG III, implemented in the 2000-2006 perspective (in Poland from 1 May 2004) [12]. Three types of ETC programs will correspond to the INTERREG III components:

-         programs of cross-border co-operation (replacing INTERREG III A),

-         programs of transnational co-operation (instead of INTERREG III B),

-         programs of interregional co-operation (INTERREG IV C) (replacing INTERREG III C).

Operational programs of the European Territorial Co-operation within each component will be implemented by following standard principles, resulting from the experience gained during the execution of Community Initiative INTERREG III programs. The introduction of consistent principles of implementation will facilitate the management of the programs and  joint international projects financed from ERDF funds under the European Territorial Co-operation goal [6].

Programs of cross-border co-operation will be implemented in regions situated along internal and certain external land borders of the European Union and in coastal areas lying apart not farther than 150 kilometers.

The cross-border co-operation in Poland will comprise subregions situated along the national border. A new issue, compared to the years 2004-2006, is a possibility of including subregions lying along the Baltic Sea into the program of cross-border co-operation.

Poland will participate in seven programs of cross-border co-operation. One of them is the Southern Baltic program.


2.        South baltic PROGRAM of cross-border co-operation 2007-2013


The main objective of this program is to enhance the sustainable development of the South Baltic region by joint activities increasing its competitiveness and by strengthening the integration between people and institutions. One distinctive feature of the South Baltic Program, distinguishing it from other programs of cross-border co-operation, is its large territorial scope, encompassing regions of five EU member states.

The program covers the following territorial units:

-         Poland – subregions of Szczecin, Koszalin, Słupsk, Gdańsk, Tri-City;

-         Sweden – regions of Kalmar, Blekinge, Skane;

-         Denmark – regional district of Bornholm;

-         Lithuania – region Klaipeda;

-         Germany – areas of the Mecklemburg-Vorpemmern: Greifswald, Rostock, Stralsund, Wismar, Bad Doberan, Nordvorpommern, Nordwestmecklenburg, Ostvorpommern, Rügen, Uecker-Randow.

The South Baltic Program covers both ‘new’ and ‘old’ EU member states, where substantial disparities exist in the level of social and economic development. The aid provided under this program focuses on two major priorities of co-operation:

Priority 1. Economic competitiveness.

Priority 2. Attractiveness and joint identity.

Priority 1 envisages support for projects aimed at developing enterprise, integration of higher education and job markets, as well as regions transport accessibility.

Priority 2 comprises actions taken to support projects concerned with the environmental protection of the Baltic Sea, saving energy and renewal energy, sustainable use of natural resources and cultural heritage for the regional development, and initiatives of local communities.

Activities relating to transport accessibility include the preparation of feasibility studies of undertakings aiming at the elimination of transport bottle necks within the South Baltic coastal area. Additionally, there are plans to make joint efforts to improve the quality of transport links and creating new ones. Besides, proposals are expected to provide solutions for increasing the quality and life cycle of passenger transport means in the region.


3.       Oversize baltic program


One of the projects under the South Baltic Program, Oversize Baltic, approved for implementation in 2009, is related with the transport of oversize cargo in the South Baltic region.

At present nearly each industrial investment requires transfer of various structural elements and equipment, whose dimensions exceed standard size of transport vehicles (trucks, wagons etc.). Cargo that needs special means of transport and lifting facilities to be moved is called oversize cargo, although other terms are sometimes in use, such as outsized, bulky or non-standard cargo, heavy lifts etc.

Some examples of oversize cargoes include elements of land and marine structures (sea platforms, elements of tunnels, bridges or pipelines, power line pillars, turbines, etc.). These often require precision and special conditions of the manufacturing process (including special tools). As a result, structural elements are made in one place and have to be transported to their destination as oversize items of cargo. The number of construction sites where these large elements are needed is on the rise in Poland (e.g. LNG terminal in Świnoujście) and Europe alike.

The transport of oversize cargo is indispensible to develop such sectors as industry, power supply or infrastructure and, undoubtedly, makes up an important part in any major investment project. It significantly affects the economic development of each country, where, however, various regulations and solutions are in use.

Transport of this type is the last link of a long chain of specialized logistic operations. The oversize transport operator has to make careful preparations, provide for proper equipment and have experience in oversize cargo carriage. For the entire operation to be successful, the appropriate route has to be selected along with the right vehicle, and the plan for loading and securing each bulky or heavy item has to be drawn up [15]. Vehicles adjusted to carry oversize cargo generally have the dimensions; load capacity, design and marking that differ from standard vehicles. Cargo handling equipment has much higher lifting capacity than cranes or other machines handling standard items.

Besides, to arrange a smooth movement of the oversize cargo carrying vehicle, one needs special permits and other arrangements with transport infrastructure managers concerning the route, and, naturally, cargo has to be insured. If the transport is international, the operator has to satisfy the requirements of the region to be crossed, which sometimes is very difficult.

Each country in the South Baltic region has different procedures required to prepare the transport of oversize cargo and to actually transfer such items from one point to another. These procedures are sometimes very time-consuming and costly, due to the need to adjust the route to oversize cargo and vehicle (e.g. a too small roundabout lying on the route of oversize transport has to be dismantled, then restored) [1]. The development of a joint strategy, practices and creation of new principles in this sector might increase the economic competitiveness of the South Baltic region.

In this connection, aimed at the improvement of the quality of oversize cargo handling in the South Baltic region, the Oversize Baltic project is being implemented. Commenced in July 2009, the project is scheduled to end in June 2011. The project, headed by the Klaipeda Science and Technology Park, comprises partners from Poland, Germany, Lithuania and Sweden [10].

The main objectives of the Oversize Baltic project include:

1.        development of an oversize cargo transport strategy, which will enhance the attractiveness of the region,

2.        creation of an information network that will raise the efficiency of oversize transport in the South Baltic region (integration point where an appropriate permit will be obtained along with information on route details),

3.        creation of a database on available routes for oversize cargo transit, existing transport infrastructure and obstacles, which will increase transport effectiveness,

4.        enhancing the safety associated with the carriage of oversize pieces,

5.        improvement of the co-operation in trade and infrastructure of the developing regions, which will contribute to an increase in the competitiveness of the region on the global market of transport services.

As a result of project implementation, five strategies are to be established for oversize transport: four regional strategies for Germany, Poland, Lithuania and Sweden, and a joint strategy for the entire South Baltic region. Besides, an Oversize Transport Information Network (OTIN) is to be created. The network will provide information on carriage, maps of possible routes by various modes of transport in the South Baltic region and will enable submitting an application for transport permit.

Additionally, the existing legislation will be reviewed in view of its standardization in the region in the scope concerned [11].

The involvement of companies engaged in oversize transport in the South Baltic region is a key factor for the successful implementation of the new strategy. Questionnaire-based survey is being conducted to identify the most important needs of this group of companies. The questionnaires are expected to indicate the direction which project activities should follow in order to contribute practically to the regional development of the economy connected with oversize cargo.


4.       Definition of oversize cargo


For each mode of transport oversize cargoes are those with parameters larger than standard ones. This issue is due to the existing restrictions of both vehicle design parameters and the transport infrastructure. For instance, one will not load a larger piece of cargo into an airplane than its hold, as it simply will not get in, and one cannot load a 600-ton of goods onto a barge with a 500-ton capacity because, even if the barge bottom has strength enough to withstand compression forces and the cargo is ideally distributed, the vessel will sink. Similarly, a truck with carrying 4-metre high object will not pass under a bridge having a 3.8 meter clearance.

It can be stated that in all the above cases the oversize determinants are either cargo dimensions or weight, as well as available cargo space inside a vehicle and pressure exerted on a unit surface area.

The shape of a cargo piece is another important factor, as the geometry of an object carried may affect static and dynamic stability. To maintain vehicle’s stability, calculations have to be made, cargo properly secured, with additional strengthening supports, if necessary.

In road transport it is said that cargo is oversize when its dimensions or weight exceed the maximum allowable parameters of a standard road vehicle or vehicle with a trailer as well as axle loads of this vehicle (Figs. 1 and 2).


Fig.1. Unloading of a 1100 m3 tank [4]

Fig.2. Silos underway [13]

Fig.3. Transport of equipment modules for the refinery industry by C.Hartwig – Katowice S.A. [8]


Fig.4. Unloading of 330 ton generator from a NORCA wagon by the Metalchem Serwis Ltd [9]


In rail transport an oversize cargo is a shipment that cannot be carried without exceeding the loading gauge of a wagon or/and exceeding allowable load on the wagon axle or on one running metre of the rail. (Figs. 3 and 4).

In inland shipping an oversize cargo is one that protrudes beyond the vessel’s length or/and width or which reaches up above the highest fixed element of the vessel (vertical clearance of bridges, lock gates etc.), so that the helmsman has restricted vision (Fig. 5).

zeg%20srod 2

Fig. 5. Transport of two pressure reactors with diameter 5.80m for the Schwedt refinery, operated by Best-Logistic Sp. z o.o. [2]


In sea transport oversize cargo items are sometimes a few hundred metres in length, weighing from a few hundred to several thousand tons. Therefore, they are carried by dedicated ships. Examples include drilling rigs, cranes, ships, yachts, turbines etc. (Figs. 6 and 7).

Fig.6. transport of a drilling rig [5]
Fig.7. Transport of a damaged warship [3]

Oversize cargo in air transport is the one that cannot be accommodated in a regular service airplane – it does not fit an air container or is too large for a special consolidation unit. The only way to transport it is to use a special transport airplane, e.g. Antonov An 225 or L382 Hercules type (Fig. 8).


Fig.8.A transport airplane L-382 Hercules [16]


Taking all above into account, it seems that the most adequate definition for all modes of transport can be formulated as follows:

“Oversize cargo is called a cargo that exceeds mean allowable parameters of a vehicle in terms of dimensions, shape geometry or allowable loads on unit surface area”.


Regulations governing the carriage of oversize cargo can be divided into two basic groups:

1.        Safety regulations for the design of vehicles that result from technical-strength and stability documentation of vehicles/means of transport used in water and land transport, codes, recommendations, resolutions and regulations (e.g. resolutions adopted by the International Maritime Organization),

2.        legal instruments and administrative regulations of local authorities (statutes, directives, local bylaws, e.g. orders of a competent Inland Shipping Director).

The greatest number of relevant legal instruments deals with oversize road transport. These include:

1.        Act of 6 September 2001 on road transport;

  1. Act of 21 March 1985 on public roads (with amendments);
  2. Order of 31 December 2002 on technical condition of vehicles and their necessary equipment,

4.      Order of Infrastructure Minister of 16 December 2004 on specific conditions and permits issuing procedure for oversize vehicles transit;

  1. Order of Infrastructure Minister of 26 April 2004 on piloting vehicles;
  2. Order of 28 June 1986 on the principles of competent authorities and procedure of establishing costs related to the specification of transit routes and adjustment of road sections to the movement of vehicles with mass and dimensions exceeding maximum standards or oversize vehicles;
  3. Order of 15 January 2002 on road charges;
  4. Order of 25 May 1999 on road traffic control.

Requirements for rail transport of oversize cargo are provided in:

  1. Order of Transport Minister of 7 June 2006 on the kind and conditions of transporting cargo that can cause difficulties in rail transport,

2.       Cargo delivery regulations (RPT) PKP Cargo S.A. (at present the only carrier of such goods).

    In inland waterway transport oversize cargo transport is regulated by:

1.        Order of Infrastructure Minister of 28 April 2003 on regulations for shipping on inland waterways,

2.        Local bylaws published by competent regional Inland Navigation Office Director. For example, for the lower section of the River Oder:

a.        Order of Inland Navigation Office Director in Szczecin of 7 June 2004 regarding the local regulations on inland waterways.

b.       Order of Inland Navigation Office Director in Szczecin 4 December 2009 on shipping on the border waters of the Oder, West Oder and the River Nysa Łużycka.

 In maritime transport the basic document regulating legal relations in maritime shipping is the Maritime Code Act of 18 September 2001. There is no particular legally-binding instruction referring to oversize cargo, therefore carriers should apply customary practices concerning safe stowage and securing of cargo pieces on board their ships.

Air transport in mainly governed by the Act of 3 July 2002: Aviation Law, regulating legal relations in civil aviation.


5.        infrastructural restrictions in each mode of transport


Restrictions connected with the existing infrastructure have to be taken into account while organizing the transport of oversize cargo. The fewest such restrictions exist in air and maritime transport. In the latter case relevant restrictions may be those of port infra- and suprastructure. Operators of bulky and heavy pieces have to take into account the use of specialized high lifting capacity facilities, allowable load on the quay and sufficient depth along the berth, enabling ships to moor. A sufficient depth of a port basin is needed for submersible ships to submerge to the required depth (the ship submerges, the cargo such as a drilling platform is being towed over the ship’s deck, the ship goes up, and the cargo is secured on deck).

In air transport the basic infrastructural restriction lies in the capability of the airport to handle the cargo and the plane (e.g. runway length), as well as the transport links with the hinterland.

In inland waterway transport major restrictions result from the parameters of the navigable routes and locks, air clearance under bridges, pipelines and other facilities crossing the waterway, the width of bridge spans and the width of waterway channels. In this connection, regional waterway authorities issue orders specifying vessels’ and push trains dimensions that are permitted to navigate along particular waterway sections.

In rail transport restrictions refer to, first of all, the loading gauge and the building gauge, load on one running meter of rail, [14], arcs of rail bends and transverse inclination of the rail track, bridge and flyover load capacities, tunnel and other infrastructure facility size, sometimes the varied transit speed. Additionally, the existing semaphores, signs, junctions, water towers, crossing attendant’s house, railways stations and platforms, distances between platforms etc. have to be taken into consideration as well.

Road transport faces the greatest number of various limitations connected with the carriage of oversize cargo. Route planners have to take into account the width of transit roads, bend radiuses, existing road signs and posts, height and width of clearances under bridges and flyovers, allowable bridge load capacity, roundabouts, safety islands, allowable road surface load, electric and rail tractions, road repairs in progress etc. Quite frequently the mentioned obstacles have to be removed for the time of transit. This means dismantling of road signs or even roundabouts and lifting overhead tractions. Even if the shortest route to the place of cargo destination is about 100 km, with all diversions it may take 300 km to carry one particularly bulky or long element. There is a lack of immediately available information on the parameters of bridges and flyovers, and other restrictions on each road. As a result of all such difficulties, the end recipient of the cargo pays more and waits longer for the delivery [15].


6.       conclusions


1.        Each country within the Baltic Sea region has different procedures connected with the preparation of oversize cargo for transport, and the transport itself.

2.        At present the transport of oversize cargo encounters numerous problems.

3.        Road transport, the most common form of transportation used for the movement of oversize cargo (over 30,000 permits issued in 2008, over 24,000 in 2009), faces the largest number of problems.

4.        Information on existing obstacles or possible transit routes is not easily available.

5.        No specific instructions or guidelines exist in reference to the correct securing of cargo pieces on road vehicles in Poland, while in Germany, for instance, there are specific transport standards of cargo securing and they are strictly enforced.

6.        The Oversize Baltic project is underway, aimed to improve the quality of oversize cargo handling in regions around the Baltic Sea. The project will result in a joint strategy and practices and the creation of new principles, which may increase the economic competitiveness of the Southern Baltic region.

8. Bibliography

[1].         Galor W., Galor A.: Transport ładunków ponadgabarytowych. XIII Międzynarodowa Konferencja Naukowa „Transcomp 2009”. Radom 2009.

[2].         http://www.best-logistics.com

[3].         http://www.cargolaw.com

[4].         http://www.comtrans.pl

[5].         http://www.cryptome.org

[6].         http://www.ewt.gov.pl/WstepDoFunduszyEuropejskich z dn. 20.02.2010

[7].         http://www.funduszeeuropejskie.gov.pl z dn. 20.02.2010

[8].         http://www.hartwig.katowice.pl

[9].         http://www.metalchemserwis.pl

[10].      http://www.transportoversize.eu z dn. 20.02.2010

[11].      http://www.transportoversize.pl z dn. 20.02.2010

[12].      http://www.um-zachodniopomorskie.pl z dn. 20.02.2010

[13].      http://zawidawie.info

[14].      Mincewicz J.: Trudne przewozy kolejowe. Polska Gazeta Transportowa z dnia 8.10.2008.

[15].      Transport ponadgabarytowy – Schenkeroversized. http://www.logistyka.net.pl z dn. 20.02.2010

[16].      http://www.defenseindustrydaily.com


[1]Akademia Morska w Szczecinie, Wydział Inżynieryjno-Ekonomiczny Transportu, tel. 091 4809 650, e-mail:a.galor@am.szczecin.pl

[2]Akademia Morska w Szczecinie, Wydział Nawigacyjny, tel. 091 4809 514, e-mail:w.galor@am.szczecin.pl

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