“Trieste: works set to start at Campo Marzio”

Genoa - Zeno D’Agostino, president of the Port System Authority: “Chinese interest in the port grows, traffic crisis with Turkey”

Genoa - The port of Trieste is one of the most advanced Italian ports in terms of logistic development; as can be demonstrated by the Trihub project: two logistic platforms integrated in a 3-way connection with the port, based on the same port system concept that informed the port authority governance reform. How far along is this initiative, and how does it fit in with Trieste’s candidacy to become the node of the New Chinese Silk Road? “Trihub,” Zeno D’Agostino, President of the Port System Authority of the Eastern Adriatic Sea, replied, “is a project that we started two years ago in collaboration with RFI; independent of subsequent agreements with the Chinese last March. The idea is to connect the port with two huge railway ports: Villa Opicina, on the border between Italy and Slovenia, and Cervignano, which in addition to the airport also houses freight village. And therefore to develop the port and its rail connections. The goal is to integrate the port with two significant platforms that have immense capacity.”

What will the benefits be?

“Within this vision of rail infrastructure investments, the project also leads to an organisational review. The trains reference the port of Trieste, which has transformed its company Adriafer from a shunting operator to a railway company. Operators can rely on Cervignano or on Opicina, which offer more capacity than the port. From there, the Authority and Adriafer are responsible for organizing shuttles to the docks.”

What role can Chinese investors play?

“Some investments can only be made by the public sector, such as tracks and stations, but others could be of interest to them. Overall, the Trihub project includes a total of €200 million in rail infrastructure investments. And there are still investment opportunities for the Chinese. For example, we are working on a neutral intermodal terminal. Those existing in the state-owned areas are all within the maritime terminals and are directly managed by the terminal operators. What we are working on would not be managed by a port terminal operator, and could find a place in the station at Aquilinia, in an existing area. The investments could come from China. But the collaboration with China will not stop there”.

What are you referring to?

“We are moving forward and studying other possibilities with them, this time Port System Authority initiatives in China. The aim is to support Made in Italy exports to China. There is no more topical issue given the US trade policy. One of the products we want to promote for export is wine, for example. We want to create platforms to import products from our territory into China.”

The port of Trieste has distinguished itself in recent years for its development of rail traffic. What is the current trend?

“This year we will have a further 15% increase in rail traffic. In a few weeks, work will begin on improving the Campo Marzio station, which is already the hub of the port’s railways, with over 10,000 trains a year. We cannot compromise this activity with construction, so we will do a modular project in successive steps so as not to affect an activity that is in full swing.”

And overall, how is the port trade going?

“On Ro-Ro, we are negatively affected by Turkey’s difficulties, as it is our main market for this sector, while liquid bulk cargo is constant and solid bulk cargo and containers are growing. The development of container traffic is of course linked to train traffic. The crisis in Turkey is leading to a reorganization of DFDS services, which no longer want to be totally dependent on the Turkish economy and will triangulate more with other countries. So we expect a reversal of the current decrease in traffic.”