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Editor in chief: Angelo Scorza
11/03/19 12:32

Bruno Musso’s BRUCO mature for becoming a chrysalides (although not yet a butterfly)

Grendi’s visionary shipowner presented to a wide audience of stakeholders his ambitious project for a Bi-level Rail Underpass for Container Operations, still seeking for political consensus

Barbazza, Novella, Duci, Scorza, Botta, Sandei

Grendi’s visionary shipowner Bruno Musso has presented to a wide audience of stakeholders gathered in Genoa - Regione Liguria, Comune di Genova, Confindustria, Assiterminal, Confitarma, Assarmatori, Spediporto, Federagenti, AdSP di La Spezia-Marina di Carrara, Intesa San Paolo, UBS, Leonardo, RINA, SPIM, Salini Impregilo, Ansaldo Energia, Progetti & Costruzioni, Cosulich, Banchero Costa, Star Marcevaggi, Fincosit, Geotunnel, Roksoil, First, Transmar, Logicompany, Movincar, CUBE, Clickutility, Blu Logistics, Pro Cargo Line, Istituto Italiano delle Comunicazioni, Ordine degli Ingegneri, Camera di Commercio italiana per la Svizzera - the 2.0 version of his ambitious project BRUCO Bi-level Rail Underpass for Container Operations, thus reaching a full consensus between operators, but still seeking for the necessary political consensus to make it switch from dream to reality, as he explained to Ship2Shore.

This century, which can also be defined as the century of logistics, has its main point of excellence represented by the ports, cradle to most technological evolution and also business organization, especially in relation to intermodal vectors.

The excellence in port organisation has allowed the growth of container vessels carrying now well over 20,000 TEU’s, which are ideally employed on long distance services serving great quantities, such as between Europe and the Far East.

The development of the container traffic has now become the driver that gives impetus to the entire maritime transport chain. In fact, these vessels are only viable and can allow economies of scale, thanks to the technological breakthrough of the port infrastructures that allows to go from 2,000 to 8,000 TEU day / ship. Only the high level of port efficiency allows to reduce to 5 days what in the past would have taken 20 days, to unload and load a large (mega) container vessel: a difference that becomes decisive compared to the 20 days it takes to cover the distance between Shanghai and Genoa.

At the same time, the 8,000 TEU day / ship require to concentrate the traffic of the single line in few ports, 2 or 3 at most, in each of which between loading and unloading 14,000 TEU movement should be expected.

A single berth (8,000 TEU * 250 working days) that serves a single line with 3 weekly departures (14,000 TEU * 3 times a week * 50 weeks), thus moves about 2 million TEU per year: which makes up for practically the total traffic of the port of Genoa, and more than that of the 4 main ports of the Upper Adriatic.

It is obvious, that the dimensional leap in traffic volumes, a consequence of new port technologies, that allow the use of mega ships, represents the true transport revolution of this century of logistics. The existing Italian port facilities and future projects known to us, are not able to meet this challenge.

In fact, a port to be able to regularly serve the mega ships must have a capacity of 8 – 10 million TEU: which requires at least 500 hectares of port space plus 3,000 adjacent logistical hectares as well as an adequate transport capacity, i.e. flow capacity.

In the Mediterranean, only Northern Italy would justify the construction of a final destination port for Mega ships, because the Po Valley is the only market that today already moves 8.5 million TEUs.

But in the current situation, in which traffic in Italy is split between 12 ports, economies of scale cannot be implemented. This brings an estimated increase of freight costs of 500$ per container.

Because of these high costs, 25% of the total traffic destined to the northern Italian regions (i.e. 2 million TEU) is shipped via the ports of Northern Europe, undermining the competitiveness of Northern Italy. In fact, this puts Norther Italy at 1,200 km from the sea.

How could one “turn the tables” of this situation and make a competitive bid versus the ports of Northern Europe, lowland ports with practically unlimited space, often exceeding 10,000 hectares, against the 200 hectares of the port of Genoa, the largest Italian port?

In order to adapt, it is necessary to integrate the port with the plain, and only in Genoa this is technically possible by connecting the deep-sea ports of the Tyrrhenian Sea with the lowland spaces of the Po Valley.

No traditional transport system, however, has the potential to cope with these volumes of traffic: just think that 3 berths are sufficient for mega ships operating at the same time to generate a flow of 24,000 TEU/day, which to be dealt with transport wise cannot rest on the traditional infrastructure or solutions offered in Genoa.

In fact, assuming one were to use the railway infrastructure, this would require about 400 trains / day (compared to 30 trains/day from Genoa today), i.e. one every 4 minutes for 24 hours, or alternatively via the road 480 vehicles per hour.

The solution exists and is technologically and economically feasible: the BRUCO, a continuous transport system, with a potential of 10 million TEU per year. A dedicated tunnel of 38 km, connects the 3 quays, that can be obtained from the existing Genoa-Prà dike, with the unlimited spaces of Novi Ligure-Basaluzzo area.

This project can be self-financed, since it produces savings of € 50/container of land transport and $ 500/container of sea freight and is therefore able to increase the Italian industrial competitiveness. However, this requires that the running of this enterprise be entrusted to more operators in competition: in fact, the monopoly of a single operator, would produce such an advantageous position that could guarantee an income that can be evaluated at full capacity at around € 6 - 8 billion a year.

It would be an additional infrastructure that at the level of Northern Italy does not replace or damage the existing realities and development projects both of railways and ports.

In fact, whilst doubling the potential of all the ports of northern Italy (about 6 million TEU), it would serve, via Genoa, traffics not accounted for today, i.e. the 2 million TEU coming to the Po Valley from Northern Europe, as well as potentially traffic to Switzerland and Southern Germany.

It would allow the creation of a logistic centre for Southern Europe, which could facilitate the development of all logistic sectors, such as Mediterranean freight traffic, passenger traffic and motorways of the sea, i.e. ro-ro traffic. These would benefit from the port areas thus made available.

The same is true regarding the third railway crossing of the Apennines, which would become more strategic both to cope with the general growth of traffic, for the fast passenger train necessary for the development of the Genoa, Milan and Turin integrated fast rail link, a prerequisite for the mega region of logistics.

Northern Italy, the logistic centre of Southern Europe, would thus become the true gateway to the Silk Road, with occupational development similar to that of the major ports in Northern Europe.

An estimated 300,000 jobs - almost 10 times more than that of current employment in the Genoese logistics.

In 20th century the port located steel industry built in Genoa by Italsider had allowed Italy to overcome the handicap of the lack of raw materials and become a major industrial power; in this century the BRUCO could allow a Mediterranean port to pick up the logistical challenge with the ports of Northern Europe and play on equal terms.

Bruno Musso