A green bridge between the South and the Baltic
Two ports, Lübeck and Venice, have teamed up with the Grimaldi Group to establish an intermodal connection between Greece and Italy on the one hand and Lübeck – a key gateway to the Baltic region.
The Autorità Portuale di Venezia, which runs the Italian port of Venice, the Lübecker Hafen-Gesellschaft LHG, in charge of the German hub of Lübeck, and the Naples-based Grimaldi Group recently signed a deal that aims to establish a ship-train-ship intermodal connection linking Greece and Italy up to the Baltic Sea. The project envisages the close involvement of the existing ScanMed railway corridor, which has been in existence since November 2015. The move brings the two ports of Patras (Greece) and Venice (Italy), as well as their extensive hinterlands, substantially closer to promising markets in the Nordic countries of Sweden, Finland and Russia.
The new option provides daily trains in both directions; these are closely coordinated with the arrivals and departures of ferry ships in the two above-mentioned gateways. The consignments will be transported on Grimaldi’s ro-ro vessels, which link the Greek port of Patras to Venice thrice a week. In the Italian hub the units are transhipped to a train for direct transportation to Lübeck in northern Germany. The port of Lübeck is considered an ideal gateway for services to and from the greater Baltic region, with convenient ferry connections to and from the Scandinavian countries, all of the Baltic states as well as to and from Russia.
Lübeck is Europe’s fourth-largest ferry and ro-ro gateway with four terminals and 18 specialised berths. It handles more than 21 million t of goods and more than 700,000 trailers to and from northern Europe annually, not least thanks to its advantageous geographical location. There is also a series of intermodal links to the hinterland, which are also being expanded.
Venice, in turn, is the Italian port that benefits most from its close proximity to the Brenner pass. Its own rather advantageous geographical location enables it to collaborate with the ScanMed corridor to ship goods rapidly to and from the above-mentioned Nordic destinations. In the first six months of this year the port of Venice reported approximately 31% more railway traffic; this was also said to be down to a series of improvements in its local railway links.
Then there is the fact that the Grimaldi Group offers 38 weekly sailings to and from Sweden, 17 to and from Finland, and two to and from Russia, all through its subsidiary Finnlines, a leading ro-ro and ferry ship operator in the North and Baltic Sea.
Grimaldi has just been granted permission by the Finnish authorities concerned to acquire the last of Finnlines’ shares. One result thereof is that Finnlines shares will be delisted from Nasdaq Helsinki stock exchange.
A rather green solution
The establishment of a new railway connection between the ports of Venice and Lübeck is at the heart of the development of this new service.
The new option will provide two to six trains a week, each hauling no less than 30 containers or trailers. They will cover the stretch between the two ports in approximately 26 to 30 hours. The initiators of the undertaking pointed out that this option represents a rapid green link between Venice and its European hinterland, in addition to existing intermodal options via the Brenner pass that already haul goods from southern Italy or Greece to Germany (or the reverse) in just three days.