THE SUCCESFUL development of rail traffic has allowed the port of Trieste to outperform its long-standing competition of Venice, in terms of the number of containers handled. In 2017 there were 616,000 TEU, a growth rate of 26.7%. In the first months of 2018, containers, RO-RO, bulk, and train traffic have continued to grow. And there are now other pressing projects on Zeno D’Agostino’s desk, the free port first amongst them. D’Agostino is president of the Port System Authority of the Eastern Adriatic Sea, as well as the head of the national association of port authorities, Assoporti.
The president explained, “The free port is linked to the regeneration of the former Wartsila area. There is already work in progress, operated by the Fernetti freight village, the first phase of which we plan to complete in the autumn. Operations will begin as early as the end of 2018. Many cargo areas will have to be created to handle so much freight. Buildings are being renovated. There is a proposal to build a temperature-controlled warehouse in the free port, there being a strong demand from businesses for the flow of perishable and temperature controlled goods. We are trying to make ourselves autonomous from this point of view. And there is also demand linked to intermodal rail transport.”
Where is it located?“We are beginning to organize not only the port, but also the Cervignano freight village. We are considering with our customers about the fact that trains should not come directly to the port, but to Cervignano on one side, and to Villa Opicina on the other, and then from there, via Adriafer shuttles, to the port of Trieste”.
What do the operators say about this?
“They are embracing this logic. On the one hand, there are areas with strong connections to infrastructure which have large spaces, with many tracks, outside the port. On the other hand, there are the port terminals where ships call. The logic is to use external spaces that have excellent accessibility by rail and road as buffers to supplement the activities at the port terminals. Already today in Fernetti, we are operating a check-in for Turkish trucks that are boarding ships. The trucks stop at Fernetti until they get the green light from the port. The same logic was transferred from a railway point of view using the shuttles of Adriafer, our railway company. The Port Authority, which also manages these platforms, integrates all of these activities.”
When will the port of Monfalcone also be integrated into the Authority?
“The process has been completed; a decree is needed from the President of the Republic, who has recently been engaged in the formation of the new government. Sooner or later, the President will have time to sign this final decree, which is pretty much obligatory. Everything has been approved. When we go to Monfalcone we will do it in the State-owned part of the port, which is only a single part: there is land and there are terminals that belong to the special port company of the Chamber of Commerce of Venezia Giulia and the Industrial Consortium of Monfalcone. Monfalcone needs a process for the integration of its governance, under unitary direction, as was done in Trieste between the port and the freight village. The idea is that it must be built together with the current owners. Operators pay for this fragmentation in management, as they find themselves working in areas with different governmental bodies with different assignment times and different costs.”
What changes for Trieste with the purchase of UN Ro-Ro by DFDS?
“It is a change for the better. DFDS wants to integrate its Northern European network with the one that begins with the port of Trieste. Which is booming: U.N. Ro-Ro has just opened the new rail terminal and is an important new player in the port’s intermodal and rail development. Until yesterday it was less dynamic because it had infrastructural constraints. With the new terminal these constraints no longer exist and we can already see that. Molo V at U.N. Ro-Ro has experienced incredible growth in terms of rail infrastructure. We expect it to continue along these lines and that the merger will not only be a corporate one, but will also integrate the intermodal network of Northern Europe with Trieste’s network, on the corridor to Turkey.”
And what about passenger traffic?
“In Trieste there is mainly talk of cruises, because the ferries are almost all commercial. Because we are a free port, we have difficulties in the operational management of European Community traffic because passengers disembark in a free port. This is a problem we had with the old lines, like Minoan, which we have not had since last year. We had to create customs corridors for passengers to pass through. In terms of cruises, I am rooting for Venice to take on a role that benefits the Northern Adriatic. Venice’s problems are everyone’s problems.”