Doubling the share of freight traffic by rail compared to 2019 and developing its positioning in the logistics chain are the main objectives of the Logistics Hub, which will also be able to become a multimodal system operator thanks to partnerships.
By working from the perspective of a system on the entire supply chain, with major investments that also include the digitalisation of the freight transport chain, FS Italiane aims to make the sector more competitive and achieve the goals set by the UN 2030 Agenda: to increase the share of freight currently travelling by rail from the current 11%, whilst the majority still travels by road, and to reach 30% as Europe demands. This share needs to increase rapidly and today is below the European average (19–20%), well under the figure for Switzerland and Austria (around 35%) and even more so compared to the United States (46%).
The parent company of the sector is Mercitalia Logistics. Seven national and international operating companies form part of the Hub, including Mercitalia Rail – the largest rail freight company in Italy and one of the largest in Europe – along with Tx Logistik and Mercitalia Intermodal as the largest combined road/rail transport operator in Italy and the third largest in Europe.
In order to double the share of freight handled in 2019 and to reach the target for 2031, a series of system-wide measures are planned for a total of almost 2.5 billion euro in investments in new rolling stock, multimodal terminals, freight villages and logistics platforms.
In order to make the logistics chain more efficient and to support the modal shift in favour of rail, a revision of regulations is desirable, starting with the rationalisation of forms of subsidy, according to an intermodal logic able to contribute to the rebalancing in favour of the green transition.
Today, for example, the toll for rail freight transport accounts for between 13% and 23% of total production costs, whereas in road haulage, the toll accounts for less than 7%. In addition, rail transport bears the costs of infrastructure operation by paying the toll along the entire route and for stops longer than 60 minutes, whilst road transport can rely on an extensive road network and free parking areas.
Amongst the necessary measures, therefore, is the reduction of regulatory and toll differences between road and rail transport in order to create, on the one hand, the conditions and prerequisites for fairer competition and, on the other, for development of the sector that takes into account factors such as environmental sustainability, safety, and the external costs of transport.