Published on April 15, 2017

Intermodality: the challenges of the Italian System

By Marcello Di Caterina, General Manager at ALIS – Associazione Logistica Intermodalità Sostenibile

Transport and efficient logistics are decisive factors for the economic development of a country. The future is embodied by the synergies and increasingly close collaborations between the various stakeholders operating in the sector (port operators and authorities, road transport and railway companies, terminal agencies, and so on) – in a single word, by intermodality. Its benefits are tangible and cross-cutting, and involve those working in the sector as well as the whole community. According to the international definition, intermodal transport is the transfer of goods from origin to destination which takes place through two or more modes of transport. This serves as a context for the so-called Motorways of the Sea – an ambitious project that the European Union has been carrying out since 2001, with the aim of providing efficient maritime connections between the various ports of the Mediterranean and favoring the transport of goods by sea over the extremely expensive and polluting road transport. There are many advantages to be gained from the adoption of rail, road and sea integrated logistics solutions. First of all in energetic and environmental terms, with a reduction in CO2 emissions of about 50% and economic savings ranging between 40% and 60%, as confirmed by very reliable sources within the sector. Suffice it to say that the combination of road and sea on the Salerno- Valencia route guarantees road transport operators savings of about 50% compared to the road-only solution. Secondly, shorter transport times: the optimal combination of road and maritime transport allows production industries in the North, for example, to deliver goods to the Sicilian mass retailers in less than 24 hours. The development of intermodal solutions finally leads a drastic reduction in the number of kilometers traveled by road transport operators. This results in environmental and economic benefits and leads to a significant road decongestion, which in turn reduces the number of accidents and increases the efficiency of infrastructure. Finally, it is worth mentioning the strategic role played by ports and interports – the true crossroads of transport and logistics and the pillars of efficient and virtuous intermodality. In Italy, despite the advanced state of development of the Motorways of the Sea, many interventions are still necessary before they are fully consolidated, such as the modernization and development of terminal infrastructures, the upgrading of connections between ports and hinterland, the installation of video surveillance systems and the creation of guarded parking lots. The European Commission itself believes that the competitiveness of European ports will depend on their ability to innovate in terms of technology, organization and management. According to Guido Grimaldi, President of ALIS – Associazione Logistica dell’Intermodalità Sostenibile, “Port security is a very important issue for transport companies that entrust their traffic to the intermodal logistics system. Therefore, transport and logistics companies must be able to ensure the security of the transported goods in order to be contracted by their potential clients. This is especially true when transporting basic necessities, IT products and valuable goods”.

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