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Editor in chief: Angelo Scorza
01/07/19 11:55

Genoese freight forwarders are working hard to please Swiss ones

The ‘Fourth Pass’ of organizational and logistics services is being prepared as a basic element for the completion of the Third Pass and of other land infrastructures in order to conquer the Swiss market

During the Genoa Shipping Week 2019, the Freight Forwarders Association Spediporto organized a workshop at the Garrone Foundation entitled: "New Ports of Genoa: a third pass of logistics services for the Swiss economy".

In light of the effectiveness of the integration between ports within the same system – as decreed by the recent port reform law – confirmed by the functional union of the four ports of Genoa-Sampierdarena, Genoa-Voltri, Savona and Vado Ligure, the organizers of the event sent a clear message to their Swiss guests: Spediporto, Western Tyrrhenian Sea Port Authority and PSA Genova Prà (the new name of former VTE Voltri Terminal Europa terminal operator) illustrated their new range of services to the Ticino-based freight forwarder ATIS and to the federal railways SBB Cargo International, which showed their appreciation for such change of course, though with caution as regards Italy's reliability.

In logistics, distance is not measured in kilometres, rather in timing, i.e. costs. In the Swiss market, Genoa already has a competitive advantage compared to Northern European ports in terms of distance, therefore it only needs to maintain it and to reduce timings (and consequently costs). In fact, the real challenge for operators is based on the concepts of reliability and minimum risk for charterers, and it will be overcome only if material infrastructures are subject to a series of timely and efficient processes.

"We need a 'Fourth Pass' of services towards Switzerland, a cultural, technological and organizational improvement which can be achieved and tested before the creation of the Third Railway Pass", Spediporto director general Giampaolo Botta declared.

"We established a partnership between operators and between the public and private sector in order to manage technical and operational port activities, thus ensuring a more efficient dispatch of containers and strengthening the links between Genoa and Switzerland. The success of Northern ports is based on the cooperation between the public and private sectors to achieve economic growth, while in Italy this has not been possible yet. We must aim at developing, among ourselves, the ability to operate in a systemic and collaborative way, exploiting the professionalism of companies, the terminal capacity and the production capacity of the entire supply chain in order to be ready, following the opening of the Third Pass, to provide not only an infrastructural offer, but also an offer based on operational and professional skills".

Therefore, we need to focus both on material infrastructures and on the ability to supply services and networks between companies in order to provide a wide and articulated offer to central European markets. "In order to attract the Swiss market, the Italian and Genoese public administration must support companies, reduce bureaucracy and ensure certain timings as regards analyses and checks”, Port Authority president Paolo Emilio Signorini declared.

"Our region is the object a series of significant investments: Third Giovi Pass, New Breakwater and Gronda highway. However, the last mile seems to be more important for Genoa than the Third Giovi Pass, therefore we are working with the Italian Railway Network (RFI) on the designing and implementation of the Molo Nuovo tunnel, which will serve SECH's and Bettolo's container terminals, while the Fuori Muro tunnel serves Sampierdarena and the second track in Voltri will be completed by the end of the year. However, I believe that railway services should be subsidized, and that the Italian government should take the first step. At present, we are focusing both on the infrastructures under construction and on the need to ensured advantageous economic conditions for railway transports of goods. This requires several financial incentives as well as the simplification of procedures to ensure timely and efficient railway transits which can compete with road transport".

In turn, PSA Genova Prà marketing manager Marzia Cicchetti officially presented the first direct railway connection launched last autumn between the port dock of Genoa and Frenkendorf (Basel): rail traction is provided by Captrain and BLS, with 3 weekly departures and transit time reduced to 12 hours.

"The train does not make any intermediate stops. It is an historical connection for intermodal transport, not only for Italy and Switzerland, but also for several central European markets which will finally be able to reduce transit times of goods from and to Southern Europe. This will ensure a reduction of 7 days of navigation for containers to reach Northern European ports, where German, Swiss and Austrian freights are usually delivered. The train has a 1,250 tons capacity and a length of up to 440 meters, and it can transport High Cube containers and IMDG cargoes", Cicchetti concluded.

The Swiss interlocutors expressed their confidence in the port of Genoa, though with pragmatism.

"The partnership with Spediporto is the result of the lasting collaboration between Swiss and Genoese freight forwarding companies. We aim both at increasing and improving our professional relations. We regard Genoa as the natural gateway to the sea for the maritime traffics that our customers entrust to us, but in order to please them we need the necessary infrastructures”, ATIS (Ticino Companies Freight Forwarders and Logistics Companies) president Fabio Maciocci confirmed.

Having celebrated its 70 years of activities in 2019, ATIS is a cooperative of operators relying on the second most important railway station for freight traffics, having over 50,000 sm of warehouses and two Free Ports for a total surface of 120,000 sm.

“The Genoa-Rotterdam corridor is one of our main goals, and it is based on the transalpine railway, which is being built in Switzerland  a month ahead of schedule. Alptransit reached Northern Ticino and it is building the Monte Ceneri base tunnel (15.4 km long, being the third Swiss railway pass), consisting of a double tunnel and a single track. The route will be delivered to Swiss railways within 2022 in order to allow freight trains up to 2000 tons to travel throughout the Swiss territory with a single locomotive”, confirmed Maciocci, who believes that the Third Pass will be ready by 2023.

“China and Switzerland have just entered into an agreement to exempt Chinese goods delivered in Switzerland from import customs duties, as well as Swiss goods exported to China. The functionality of the Genoa-Rotterdam corridor and the fast and affordable access to Central and Northern European markets will depend on the completion of the route”, Ticino freight forwarders concluded.

According to SBB Cargo International Key Account Manager Ronald Gressani, Swiss railways illustrated their offer.

Headquartered in Olten and headed by Sven Flore since 2018, the company (SBB Cargo 75%, Hupac 25%) was established in 2010 to deal with block trains and intermodal services on the North-South axis of the corridor between Germany and Italy (with SBB Cargo branches opened in Duisburg in 2002 and in Milan in 2003).

In 2018, SBB Cargo International achieved a 327,9 million CHF turnover and, with its 145 locomotives, it provides transports amounting to 11,356 million net tons per kilometre, thus covering  38.1% market share in transalpine railway freight traffic.

Last March the 100,000th train (SBB Cargo and SBB Cargo International represent 83% of freight trains in transit) travelled through the Gotthard tunnel, and in 2018 59% of the trains which travelled through the new tunnel were freight trains, up to 120 trains per day.

“The 6 railway freight transport companies currently operating on the Gotthard axis regard the tunnel's performance as good and positive. However, cross-border transport timings need to be improved”, warned the Swiss company, which is ready to enter the Italian market “if certain basic requirements are met”.

Angelo Scorza