Genoa - “The construction of the platform is moving forward nicely, the work is 54% complete,” explained Paolo Cornetto, the managing director of APM Terminals at Savona-Vado. In addition to the infrastructure projects for the new container terminal ata Vado Ligure (in which APM owns a 50.1% stake, Cosco Shipping Ports a 40% stake, and Qingdao Port International Development a 9.9% stake), purchases of equipment, dock cranes and more are continuing. The managing director continued, “The first 10 brand new straddle carriers arrived in November; we acquired them for moving containers horizontally, a major investment: there are ten of them, but we plan to use a total of 19 cranes of this type when the platform is at full capacity. They are very modern pieces of equipment, and hybrid diesel/electric powered, which will make it possible for us to reduce emissions. We are hiring specialised operators and training unemployed workers to operate them. At the end of March 2018, the first cranes for the new terminal will arrive, having left China around Christmas: in short, the construction of the Vado platform is moving forward, and we are working to make it possible for the first ships to arrive in Spring 2019.”
While the container terminal, which is the most automated that has so far been built in Italy, is now beginning operations, business is already under way in the APM-operated areas, such as the reefer terminal and intermodal traffic area. Cornetto recalled, “After years of nothing, the first freight trains once again departed from Vado, an important sign of activity in line with our goal of moving at least 40% of our containers by rail.”
Vado Ligure’s container terminal is one of the largest challenges to be found in the Italian port system in recent years. The platform was contested on at least two fronts, with opponents claiming that it would not be useful: the urban resident committees fear that the quality of life in Vado will deteriorate, while many Genoese port operators believe that the terminal will not generate new traffic, but rather take it away from the port of Genoa. But APM maintains that it will bring about one million TEU to Savona when it is at full capacity, winning new markets in Bavaria, Switzerland, Austria and France. The Danish group’s terminal company is relying on rail in order to achieve these results. 450-metre-long trains will depart from Savona, connecting the terminal to Northern Italy’s freight villages. The port of Savona will have some of the highest levels of intermodal maritime-rail traffic. The goal is for 40% of total traffic to be moved by train, a percentage that is comparable to or higher than the ones at Italian ports with currently the most rail traffic, namely Trieste and La Spezia.
The terminal is also making progress on the employment front. The platform now employs 142 people from the former reefer terminal’s activities, in an area of 37,000sqm where about 600,000 pallets of fresh fruit are handled during the course of a year, generating traffic of 70 lorries per day. In the future, thanks to the Chinese company Cosco’s stake in the company, exceptional cargo traffic will be developed to complement the primary traffic in containers. In addition to the workers at the reefer terminal, the recruitment plan calls for 237 workers to be employed in the first phase, which will increase to 309 when the terminal enters service in March 2019, and to 400 with the platform operational at its full capacity of 1.1 million TEU, from 2020. Concerning future hires, the terminal has committed to absorb at least half of the forty participants from the training course for port terminal operators, organised by Is.For.Coop, part of the programme of initiatives launched by the Liguria Region as part of the Blue Economy programme, and is still open for registration until 12 January 2018. The course, which is free and has a duration of 600 hours, is aimed at 40 unemployed persons with three-year qualifications, i.e. upper secondary school diplomas or university degrees under either the old or the new university systems.