green and tech interviews

“The port of Genoa Pra’ is changing its name and investing in rail” / INTERVIEW

Two new cranes to load and unload trains will be delivered in August.

For PSA, changing the name of the Genoa terminal (from VTE - Voltri Terminal Europa to PSA Genova Prà) is not just an aesthetic choice. On the one hand it reflects a closer relationship with the surrounding region, on the other hand it reflects a change in the identity of the Genoese-Singaporean society, increasingly focused not only on port activities, which remain central, but also on cargo storage areas, as demonstrated by the recent presentation of a new rail service to Nordic operators at Munich-based Transport Logistic, with whom the company has directly operated since last October.

“The direct rail service,” PSA Italy Managing Director Gilberto Danesi pointed out, “is entirely operated by PSA, and connects the harbour basin of Prà to the intermodal node in Basel, Switzerland. This is the first direct connection, with a transit time of 12 hours, which began last October, allowing operators in Central Europe to access the range of services offered by the port of Genoa Prà.”

What made you decide to change the name?

“The journey began when I came to the terminal, with the transition from VTE to Voltri-Prà, coming up against our neighbours and the port authority’s demands. Now we have chosen this path as a sign of closeness to the needs of the local region. The steps forward that we have taken in terms of the environment are also representative of this. On the one hand, we invested in cranes that were no longer powered by diesel but were fully electric. On the other hand, we are increasing rail transport to reduce the percentage of lorries.”

What are the characteristics of your Basel service?

“It’s a train that departs three times a week in either direction, carrying 70 TEU per trip. In addition to this train, we are making other investments to increase the terminal’s rail capacity. In August, two new cranes for loading trains will be delivered. We acquired them from the Kuenz company in Austria.”

The capacity of Ligurian ports is increasing, including those close to your terminal. You mentioned the new docks for containers that are about to be opened in the Sampierdarena and Vado Ligure basins. Do you think that it will be too much capacity? Will your investments help you to be more competitive in this respect, as well?

“Our programs started five or six years ago. In any case, it’s all about being competitive. It can be good or it can be bad, it can sound the bells, or it can take traffic away. We have adapted our dock cranes to accommodate 20,000-TEU ships, 18,000-TEU ships have already called at the terminal. Ships continue to increase in size, and in three or four years, the 20,000s will call at Genoa, too. What is important is that the whole Genoese community be competitive and efficient. An entity cannot work by itself: everything around it is important, from rail to road haulage, from the forwarders to the shipping agents. If everything worked properly, it would not make sense for ships to extend their journeys by five days to land their goods in Northern European ports. We can win back that freight.”

What are the most important international markets for the PSA Genova Prà terminal, formerly VTE, from the point of view of the traffic generated, and what role does intra-Mediterranean traffic play?

“The most important market is undoubtedly East Asia. The Mediterranean is not very significant for us; the United States and the Far East are the biggest. We now worry about the issue of tariffs, which could create disruptions to trade. The effects aren’t felt yet, but I guess they will be in the future. In the meantime, we are moving forward with our own development. The rail bottleneck will be resolved in late 2019, and we will have the double track so trains can enter and exit.”