The Black Sea: A new transport focus for east-west trade

A. Erhan Bakirci

Istanbul University,Engineering Faculty, Department of Maritime Transport and Management Engineering, Avcilar Kampus, Istanbul, TURKEY


The Black Sea is an inland sea between south-eastern Europe and Asia Minor. It is connected to the Oceans by way of the Mediterranean Sea via the Bosporus, the Sea of Marmara, the Dardanelles, the Aegean Sea, the Gibraltar Strait and the Suez Canal. The Black Sea served as a transport node for many centuries. The Silk Road is one of the World’s oldest and historically most important trade routes and is the longest land bridge of the time between Asia and Europe for more than 1000 years. It lost its importance in times when the security of transit no longer existed. Most of the east-west trade hence shifted to shipping transport through the Suez Canal and Malacca Straits. With the collapse of the USSR in 1991 revitalisation of the Silk Road was taken up and gained momentum. TRACECA (TRAnsport Corridor Europe-Caucasus-Asia) is such a project to connect Europe to Central Asia. It is planned a continuous railway to run from the Yellow Sea to Western Europe via the Black Sea. Black Sea is to be transited back and forth by means of several ferry connections reaching seaport terminals at Northern Anatolia, Georgia, Bulgaria and Romania. TRACECA is designed to provide combined transport services. Combined transport, at the European level, is an individual mode of transport which makes maximum use of the advantages of the various modes of transport, namely railways and shipping and land transport where necessary. Combined transport thus implies the organisation of intermodal door-to-door transport by transferring the goods from one mode of transport to another without changing the loading unit. Ports in the Black Sea rim will gain importance when the TRACECA corridor is fully operational. Ports in the region however lagged behind changes and developments faced mostly with the advent of containerisation; and on the contrary, developments in the transportation modes in the area and nearby have necessitated the port industry be re-shaped for rational service(s) to shipping. The Black Sea has a vast – though not well organised and co-ordinated – hinterland; linking several continents and seas in all directions. In order to attract the shipping traffic by way of direct or feeder type connections, a common but co-ordinated port policy with a well-defined ,long term action plan set forth by the surrounding states’ administrations is needed.

Keywords: Black Sea, Silk Road, TRACECA, transport corridor, combined transport, port

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