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Treni e altro sul corridoio 24 Genova-Rotterdam


Maryam Romagnoli Sacchi

per maggiori informazioni cfr. "Il disegno dell'interportualità italiana" a cura del CENSIS, Milano, Franco Angeli Editore, 2009




Corridor 24: the terminals south of the Alps.

Side notes of October 2 UIR Conference


ultimo aggiornamento / last update
Mortara e Nordossola update

terminal domo II Hangartner
Hangartner terminal in Domo II
terminal CIM Novara
terminal CIM Novara
terminal Hupac Busto Arsizio
terminal Hupac Busto Arsizio
RSC Rotterdam
terminal RSC in Rotterdam (photo Finn Moller)
interporto rivalta scrivia
freight village in rivalta scrivia (archive media freight village rivalta)



Mortara intermodal terminal (photo pont)


scarico rola a novaraUnloading of a Rolling Motorway in Novara Boschetto






I write this short note, as a layman and with no pretence of completeness, about the intermodal terminal system serving the southern part of the Alps of Corridor 24. Mainly, a foundation to work on.

First of all, we need to distinguish the different types of terminals, according to their dimensions, services, and location. I have identified three of them:

  • gateway terminals, which focuses on the transfer road-railway of freight units (container or intermodal) and the train-train reshipping for the remaining route;
  • freight village, leaving the official definition aside, it is a structure that allows to transfer different freight units among different kinds of transport or different carriers, and it is often integrated with storage, sorting and, if needed, handling activities.
  • local and/or specialized terminals, for the transport of containerized or intermodal freight units,   they are tied to the economic territorial realities or the specific settlements able to produce relatively large traffic volumes, and which may be orientated to in place intermodality (feeder line) or delocalized (road/road terminals, gateway terminals, fright villages).

I do not regard logistic centers as purely tied to road transport, although they may be involved in the shipments that use Rolling Highway services, it is to a very limited extent.

In the North-west area of Italy, which has direct relations with Corridor 24 goods traffic, there are all the above-mentioned types of terminals, however their distribution over the entire territory gives us some interesting indications on how intermodality works in Italy.

The first one confirms my impression that there is a virtual line coinciding with the Novara-Padua transverse axis, and to its North, the railway and intermodal goods traffic is not very different from the Central European traffic, whereas to its South there is an absolute predominance of road transport. Such situation is revealed both by the many more railway links existing along Gottardo/Sempione and Brennero axis compared with those continuing towards central-south Italy, and by the types of terminals. For further information about the links, please see the TCNA timetables at the top of this page.

Let us see the main terminals to the North and along the upper Po Valley motorway, but I will take into consideration only those originating traffic along Corridor 24.
There are:
. Domodossola Domo II, in the Sempione line, Hangartner specialized gateway + Nordossola gateway
. Novara CIM, main gateway
. Oleggio HUPAC, main gateway
. Gallarate/Busto A. HUPAC, main gateway
. Gallarate Ambrogio, specialized gateway
. Desio HUPAC, Gottardo Line, local
. Milano Certosa RFI, local
. Milano Segrate RFI, main gateway
. Melzo, integrated freight village

. Brescia RFI, local

As we can see, most of them are gateway terminals, with a strong predominance of road/railway transfer on the possible associated logistics structures.
Furthermore ,the main gateways, and Ambrogio specialized one, are directly connected to the highways.
They are altogether similar to the systems on the Northern routes of Corridor 24, where gateway activity is central or exclusive, as we observe from Google Earth satellite images [only transfer yards with portal cranes and no sheds]:
. Köln Eifeltor (coord.: 50°53’19.59”N 6°55’07.40”E)
. Ludwigshafen KTL (coord.: 49°32’05.78“N 8°24’41.21“E)
. Duisburg Ruhrort (coord.: 51°27’16.57”N 6°45’117.70”E)
. Rotterdam RSC (coord.: 51°52'21"N 4°25'31"E)
. Rotterdam Maasvlakte (coord.: 51°57’08.11”N 4°02’40.22”E)
. Antwerpen Noord (coord.: 51°17’54.00”N 4°22’38.51”E)

All these facilities are therefore orientated to long-distance traffic coming originally from the North Sea ports, and it is sorted out to the economic areas in Central Europe, and as far as the Po Plain. The volumes of such traffic are so large as to allow active management of yards with no need for related logistic services. Besides, these are sites located in very well equipped areas from the logistic facilities point of view, where transport is the main request.

The case of terminals south of the motorway in the upper Po Valley is different, as currently they all are integrated freight villages equipped with logistics facilities and the road/railway transfer represents a minor part of their activity.

In this context we can observe that much planning is being carried out and this should bring about improved services and an increase in the importance of railway transport.

Currently (July 2010) the following terminals are operating:

. Rivalta Scrivia, integrated freight village
. Mortara, integrated freight village
Under planning:
. Alessandria, integrated freight village

It is worth expanding these three facilities:

Rivalta Scrivia is today a very large logistic center that can offer warehousing, storage, transformation and transfer services for many types of goods, and it is equipped with a feeder line. Its development plan intends to transform it into Genoa cargo storage area mainstay, due to the good railway link, with a Shuttle feeding system directly from the quays and a specific customs managing system for international traffic.
Currently the system is at an experimental stage with three slots, although at present only one is operative. A five-track new intermodal yard and new logistics areas are under construction, in order to increase railway traffic.

Mortara, opened in December 2009, is a rail/road interchange center, focused on railway traffic (three service tracks, electrified entrance/exit area with direct access to the net) and it will be integrated with logistics facilities. Its geographic location will allow to develop relations with both the North, as a support for Novara terminal, and Genoa port area and South Milan. The first activated services of the operator Shuttlewise are for Rotterdam and Venlo.

Alessandria is supposed to become Genoa’s main cargo storage area, thus following its historical vocation. This structure could become the junction through which Genoa port could feed central Europe from the South, but here a more complex game is played, which does not involve only railways, but first of all the ability of Genoa port system to regain competitiveness with the large northern ports.

Other terminals are located along the railway line Milan-Bologna: Lodi, Piacenza, Fiorenzuola, which too are integrated with logistics structures, and are serving the industrial area along Via Emilia. Interesting is the case of CEPIM freight village in Parma, equipped with very extensive logistic structures, and located in an interesting position binding it both to corridor 24 and corridor 1 (Brennero), as well as to the northern directrix tirreno-adriatica (Genoa-La Spezia-Livorno towards Ravenna).

Some structures are tied to each other by regular routes through Busto Arsizio Hupac Gateway, such as Fiorenzuola, Bologna and others, as far as the South (Maddaloni-Marcianise), or through reshipping from Novara.

A second consideration leads us to acknowledging that at present the intermodal sector is rich in projects, some of which are about to be completed. This is due to the fact that prior to 2008 economic crisis, the intermodal transport growth rate was much higher than other modes. Therefore, most terminals are planning to expand their structures, either on site, or by setting up nearby support systems.

It is likely that the tendency to intermodal transfer of goods will grow stronger again once the economic crisis ends, and the existing terminals system shows to have good response capabilities to the growing demand, at least for a certain period of time

The UIRNET project is important for better exploiting of terminal net potentialities. It is a computer platform for data exchange and system management of terminal system of transport. Such project, which is being developed and implemented by UIR (Unione Interporto Riuniti), was presented at the event held on October 2nd in Rivalta Scrivia, and is supposed to produce large economies of scale and management security for freight units, but it should not be limited only to UIR freight villages..

Basically the situation of intermodal structures appears positive to me, however it is essential to act on two more fronts to attain the desired growth.
One the one hand, it is essential to persuade carriers to adopt the intermodal transport system, both in terms of adequate means of transport and correspondence relations with those who will manage the freight upon arrival, and by winning over the common resistance towards railways. To this end, it may be useful to start making available some routes of the Rolling Highway (Combined, Accompanied), because if it is true that it penalizes the transportation of large tare freight, it is also true that it allows to load scarcely-equipped means of transport, and allows a single operator to keep control of the entire route; it is also useful to introduce the carrier to combined transport and, if they have had a good experience, to accompanied transport as well. This is what the French railways intend to do, in fact they are planning to activate many domestic routes of Rolling Highways, through the Modalohr system that offers further advantages.

On the other hand, we still and always are faced with the question of railway net functionality and the likelihood for it to be organized in such a way as to satisfy the requests, very explicit now, of the goods sector and especially the intermodal sector, in terms of performances, regularity of services, open access to the net, and fares. This is still the weakest link of the intermodal transport chain. It is absolutely essential that the RFI (the Italian Railways) net management be completely separated from the so-called FS Group (State Railways), as at present the RFI industrial policies seem to be favoring the operative and investment choices of Trenitalia only (not even Trenitalia Cargo), leaving little resources for the goods sector or even dismantling its structures.

The last question is the cost of railway transports, which needs to become as competitive as the road transports, given the same opportunities to the two sectors (what seems to be realized through the so-called ferrobonus, which will soon be implemented) or even better, by bringing “hidden” costs of road transport to light, as required by the European Union.


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Maryam Romagnoli Sacchi

Translation from and into Italian, English and Spanish
Fields: Transport and Shipping, Architecture and Design, Medical, Psychology, Anthropology

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