Ports, fruit and rail: the challenge of Vado

Barcelona - The plan for the APM (Maersk Group) platform was presented in Barcelona. Intermodal objective 40%. Terminal to move 1.1 million TEUs per year.

Barcelona - The terminal will move 1.1 million TEU per year at full capacity, with 26 movements per crane per hour, it offers channel depths from 16m to 23m and will employ over 500 people. These are the figures on the new platform in Vado Ligure which Paolo Cornetto, the CEO of APM Terminals in Italy, reported at MedPorts in Barcelona. For the moment, Vado’s is the last major port infrastructure project to be built in the Mediterranean Sea before the mega container hub at Genoa Sampierdarena becomes a reality. The latter will be built on land that was previously the Calata Bettolo. The plan was approved by the then Port Authority of Savona in 2000, and the terminal should enter operation in March 2019: “We are now at 53% of the completion of the civil engineering work,” Cornetto explained, “The installation of the cranes, which have already been completed at ZPMC in Shanghai, should take place one year earlier, so in early 2018. In 2020, the second phase of the terminal will be at full capacity. It is a facility that will break several records: “This will be the only terminal in North-western Italy that does not have limitations on the ships it can handle, neither because of the height of cranes, nor the depth of channels. And then there is the automation,” Cornetto said. “It will be the first Italian terminal to be partially automated, in its cargo area cranes part, and this will allow us to handle goods more quickly.

We estimate the entry and exit times for trucks at 35 minutes, 45 minutes during peak traffic times.” The Vado terminal is aimed at the mega-container-carrier market, which is gradually entering service on the most important global routes, and which the biggest global shipping companies will begin to introduce into the Mediterranean. However, Cornetto explained, the facility will not be focused only on this market segment: the presence of Cosco with a 40% stake in the Vado Terminal opens the possibility of working in the project cargo segment, the special cargo segment of maritime shipping (industrial equipment, industrial components and infrastructure) to which the Chinese state-owned group has dedicated a special division with its own vast fleet. These operations would be carried out on the premises of the nearby Reefer Terminal, which is also equipped with a berth for possible freight ferry traffic. The Reefer Terminal would also continue to receive the terminal’s historical traffic: the small container carriers (the figure of 1.1 million TEU is the sum of the containers to be handled at the two docks) and most importantly the temperature-controlled fruit traffic, which travels through Vado on 600,000 pallets, accounting for about 60% of all such traffic in the ports of the Ligurian and Tyrrhenian Seas. In terms of fruit, APM Terminals is organising a freight train in Barcelona for temperature-controlled transportation to the Zaragoza freight village, and Maersk Group controlled company’s idea is to shift to this modality of transport at Vado Ligure, as well. The terminal’s intermodal objective is ambitious: 40% of freight entering and exiting by train (La Spezia is at 36%, Genoa is at 18%). Genoese freight train operator Fuorimuro, which is 50% controlled by FNM, recently launched a service between Marseille and Parma that calls at Vado Ligure, and Cornetto’s idea is to follow all the possible routes: not only the current Giovi route and the future Third Tunnel, which carry all the rail freight traffic from Genoa and La Spezia, but also the two lines that connect Savona to Turin and Alessandria. The trains that will depart from Vado’s new rail terminal will be 450m long, with the option of being attached to longer convoys at the intermodal centres of the Po River Valley. “The secondary lines to Alessandria and Turin,” Cornetto argued, “are almost unused: with not much work they could be running high-cube containers, even if there’s only a few cars. We are studying the matter over the coming weeks.” With most judicial cases resolved (a complaint on the merits of Italia Nostra is pending before the Council of State), the employment issue was settled on Thursday, as Il Secolo XIX reported, through the trade union agreement, which provides for the use of the Rebagliati Company for lashing and unlashing operations. It is the last piece of the hiring plan, which indicated 237 workers to be hired in the first phase, which would increase to 309 when the terminal enters service, and 401 when the platform is operating at full capacity. The 142 workers on the Reefer Terminal should be added to these. The multiplier [i.e. the economic effect on associated industries], according to a study prepared by the University of Genoa several years ago, is 2.1.

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