Connecting the national railway network and ports to facilitate the exchange of goods with Europe

In Genoa the 6th Global Rail Freight Conference takes place, organized by the Union Internationale des Chemins de Fer (UIC) and Ferrovie dello Stato Italiane

Genoa, 27 June 2018

Increase the connections between the national railway network and Italian ports to develop intermodal services that facilitate, through the TEN-T corridors, the exchange of goods with Europe.

These are the themes addressed in the 6th Global Rail Freight Conference (26-28 June) organized by Ferrovie dello Stato Italiane and Union Internationale des Chemins de Fer (UIC), in Genoa, a particularly symbolic location as it’s the southern entrance to the TEN-T Rhine-Alps corridor, the main corridor for European goods.

"The development of an integrated rail freight system, one of the pillars of FS Italiane's 2017-2026 Business Plan, is a priority for promoting trade between Europe and the world", highlighted Renato Mazzoncini, UIC President and Chief Executive Officer and General Manager of FS Italiane, at the opening of the works. "This is why the €30 billion made available to the Connecting Europe Facility program (CEF) of the European Union for the period 2021-2027 is very important. These are funds that will serve to improve the interoperability of national railway infrastructures at a continental level. Another determining factor is the installation of the European Rail Traffic Management System (ERTMS) on all TEN-T corridors to make them seamless, without interruption, for all railway companies.”

Worldwide, over 70% of goods move by sea and maritime transport has become the backbone of the world economy. Italy with its ports has access to about 20% of the goods traded globally in transit on the Mediterranean Sea, which only extends over 1% of the world's surface area.

Currently, Italian ports mainly receive goods from the Far East destined for European countries. For this reason the development of the TEN-T corridors (Rhine-Alps, Mediterranean, Scandinavian-Mediterranean, Baltic-Adriatic) together with the strengthening of the national railway system and the port system are fundamental to making Italy a logistics centre of primary importance and a hot spot for Europe.

Of the 15 national strategic ports, currently those of Ancona, Genoa, Gioia Tauro, La Spezia, Livorno, Ravenna, Taranto, Trieste, and Venice are connected to the national railway network. By 2026, the port of Naples will also be connected. Rete Ferroviaria Italiana has planned investments totalling one billion euros to improve connections between the ports and the railway network, to decongest main roads, and to upgrade the first and last railway miles.

A further four billion Euro will be invested by RFI, by 2026, for technological and infrastructural upgrading of the railway lines with projects dedicated to freight transport. The TEN-T corridor lines will be adapted to European standards: functional modules for the passage of long trains up to 750 meters, axial weight up to 22.5 tons, and loaded with large containers (High Cube), semi-trailers and so-called "traveling highway" (lorries up to 4 meters high, complete with tractor and trailer, loaded on special freight wagons).

The development of freight traffic and logistics also involves the Polo Mercitalia, launched in January 2017 with the aim of rebooting freight transport by rail. The Polo Mercitalia, by exploiting the upgrade of the railway infrastructure, will increase the productivity of freight trains by 20 percent. In fact, 350 million euros of investment in rolling stock is planned (60 traction and manoeuvring locomotives and 3,000 wagons) as well as an increase in the workforce with 300 drivers and operators.

Of crucial importance is ensuring that all investments made with a view to environmental sustainability have a financial instrument, at the European level, thus guaranteeing the use of resources. These investments include the development of rail freight transport, which should reach 30% by 2030, in line with the Paris COP 21/23 climate agreement. This way, European Green Bonds would acquire greater importance if they were certified by introducing a quality standard and had periodic reviews on the real positive impact of the use of funds, also carried out by external control bodies.