RFI and the ZAI Consortium: new investments in the Quadrante Europa for freight traffic

Aimed at guaranteeing a greater capacity for combined iron-road transport, it comes in anticipation of an increase in rail traffic from Brenner 

Verona, 23 September 2019

Upping the overall capacity of the Quadrante Europa interport, intercepting increasing volumes of traffic freight in favour of combined road-rail transport and strengthening the strategic and logistic function of the Verona railway station.

These are the objectives of the infrastructural reinforcement plan illustrated today in Verona by the CEO and General Manager of Rete Ferroviaria Italiana (FS Italiane Group), Maurizio Gentile, and the Chairman of the ZAI Consortium, Matteo Gasparato, in the presence of the Councillor for Public Works, Infrastructure and Transport of the Veneto Region, Elisa De Berti, and the Mayor of Verona, Federico Sboarina.

The main operation for enhancing the Quadrante Europa consists in the realisation of the new Fourth Module, equipped with five tracks with a length of 750 metres—the European standard of length for freight trains—along with portal cranes and storage areas. Such operations will increase the total capacity of the intermodal terminal of Verona for the Quadrante Europa, in order to offer an adequate response to a growing demand of combined railway transport, destined to increase with the completion and entry into operation of the Brenner Base Tunnel, as well as the development of the HS/CA towards the East.

For this reason, strengthening the Quadrante Europa foresees a direct connection with the Brenner Base Tunnel route and the railway line to Bologna. These actions are in line with the development strategies undertaken by Rete Ferroviaria Italiana in order to promote the development of freight transport and the modal shift from road to rail. The final objective is to promote the integration between the rail network, the interports and ports, being necessary for achieving the utmost synergy in the logistics of freight transport with a view to maximum sustainability and in line with the objectives established by the European Union’s Transport White Paper: transfer 30% of freight transport over 300 kilometres to rail by 2030 and 50% by 2050.

The total investment, inclusive of enhancing the railway station, comes to approximately 59 million euro. Given their strategic importance, the development of the design of the operations is co-financed by the European Union within the framework of the project “Veneto Intermodal”, presented by a consortium led by the ZAI Consortium Interporto Quadrante Europa, with the Rete Ferroviaria Italiana, Veneto Region and the North Adriatic Sea Port Authority as partners. Completion of the works is planned for 2026.

Rete Ferroviaria Italiana’s primary commitment," declared Maurizio Gentile, "is to identify the most effective actions for the development of the network, proceeding according to a coherent and system logic. We are working with all players involved to ensure that the Italian transport system is able to welcome opportunities that will arise from the 2028 opening of the Brenner Base Tunnel in the best way possible, together with the eastward advancement of High Speed/High Capacity. Moreover, our investment programmes for freight transport—coming to around 4 billion euro—involve multiple operations on all lines connecting to the European Corridors, with adaptations of the module, of the limit and axial weight gauge, so as to render the Italian system perfectly integrated with Europe as our domestic market of reference.

Today, the Quadrante Europa operates with what will be the future developments in the field of rail and intermodal transport in mind, especially with the railway infrastructural upgrades on the East-West axis, along with the opening of the Brenner Base Tunnel and the access lines to the south, from Fortezza to Verona," affirms Chairman Gasparato. "We believe in addressing the themes of 'intermodality’ and 'sustainabilitywith an integrated approach and with the most significant partners of RFI, the Veneto Region and the Municipality of Verona. Therefore, we are not limited to managing daily life by ‘putting up with’ traffic but instead adopt a ‘proactive’ approach with a view to European, national and regional infrastructure planning and heading in this direction in order to promote the maximum sustainability of freight transport. Verona is ready to play a leading role amongst the European intermodal terminals, in full agreement with the European Commission, the Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport and the regional and local institutions."

Important investments that look towards the future of the Quadrante Europa," explains Mayor Sboarina, "are aimed towards enhancing and increasing the total capacity of the Scaliger terminal. We are talking about the most important Italian interport in terms of traffic volumes and the first in Europe when it comes to service quality. This model has evolved and has rendered its highly-specialised systems the gateway to innovation. This has made it possible to consolidate Verona’s role as an east-west and north-south hub. We are at the heart of the two most important European road and rail corridors, a centrality that we want to maintain over time in order to guarantee the economic growth of our entire territory. This investment creates development, of which the entire Verona community will certainly benefit.

The Quadrante Europa interport intersects the European TEN-T Scandinavian-Mediterranean and Mediterranean railway corridors, representing a fundamental junction both in the north-south direction through the Brenner Pass and for East-West connections, the main axis of development for Italian companies exporting to Eastern Europe.

In 2018, around 28 million tonnes of goods transited in the Quadrante Europa, of which 8 million was by train. Some 16,000 trains have been operated annually, with an average of almost 60 trains per day.

Italy exports 70% of its goods to Europe and most goes to Nordic countries and thus mainly travels along the Brenner Pass along the Scandinavian-Mediterranean Corridor, being the main axis connecting Italy with the rest of Europe. The Brenner is the first alpine pass whose traffic is greater than the sum of that between the crossings with France and Switzerland, totalling 10.5% of the total Italian trade. This highlights the importance of the investment involving theQuadrante Europa interport.