Interview with Graziano Delrio, Minister of Infrastructure and Transport
How important is it to assure the free circulation of people, goods and services, also through an efficient and sustainable freight transport system, keeping the development of the internal market, the prosperity and the economic, social and territorial cohesion of the EU in mind?
I would like to start from the last G7 Transportation, which took place in Cagliari last June and ended with a joint declaration that put the social value of infrastructure under the spotlight. We must focus more and more on high-quality infrastructure projects, as the economic and social development of the European community depends on the mobility of people and on an efficient, environmentally sustainable and intermodal freight transport system. The quality of our democracy is at stake, because ensuring efficient mobility means improving the quality of life for millions of people and results in a sustainable economic development.
In your opinion, is it necessary to relaunch a new Italian strategy with regard to freight transport logistics?
Europe is one of the world leaders when it comes to reducing emissions, and investing in logistics, with particular regard to sea-rail integration in order to reduce road traffic, is a key component of this strategy. In recent years, Italy has been accelerating to close the gap on this front. Our “iron treatment”, together with the “water treatment”, are finally bearing concrete fruit: our data about last year show a significant increase in railway freight transport. We have to keep up the good work. We must finish connecting the last mile that separates ports and interports from the national rail network and the international routes. In fact, we must consider the whole country as the EU’s logistic platform towards the Mediterranean, a gateway to and from other continents.
The EU draws attention to the key role of intermodality and calls for a better integration of multimodal platforms in the planning activities of Member States. How are these comments received in Italy?
Intermodality is the key to our success. In this respect, we have put a system policy in place. I am thinking of Marebonus, an incentive for the creation of “Sea Motorways” the aim of which is to promote road-sea intermodality in freight transport by launching new maritime services or implementing existing ones. Other initiatives are Ferrobonus and ‘Sconto Traccia’, aimed at developing the intermodal road-rail freight transport system. I am also thinking of the 900 billion € spent on infrastructural works in 2015/2016; of the more than 40 million € invested over the same period in order to digitize the logistics chain (Italy is now the first country in the EU and the third country in the world for customs clearance times, while three years ago it ranked 37th); of the approximately 200 shipyards in 57 ports of national relevance; finally, of the 200 million provided for in the Contratto di programma RFI for railway “last mile” interventions. In short, we have planned and implemented a network of interventions that will certainly elevate our integrated logistics system to the European level.
However, there can be no intermodality without Internet of Things (IoT) telematics. Is this the main route to follow?
Over the next twenty years, we will have to account for major investments in an environmentally friendly and technologically networked transport system. I am thinking, for example, of the smart roads and digital infrastructures that will allow us to have driver-less cars and public transports in the future. All of this will go hand in hand with an improvement in safety standards and in the efficiency of existing transport networks by road, rail and sea; their performance will be improved by implementing new technologies. Infrastructures should be part of a “connected” lifestyle, a gateway enabling economic exchanges, promoting territories and improving the quality of life.