Freight News, Rail, Road, Sea

Trains keep Italy on the move – updated

[ April 2, 2020   //   ]

Italian container terminal and intermodal service provider Contship says that there was already a severe shortage of truck drivers, even before the covid-19 outbreak, and that the situation after the covid-19 outbreak “massively deteriorated” due to restrictions on movement and tightened border measures.

Contship is however providing alternative intermodal solutions and minimise reliance on trucks. Rail transport can move large quantities of goods over long distances with a reduced headcount.

For example, a train crew of two can move the equivalent of 40 semi-trailers in addition to around 60 staff at terminals – the latter can handle 20 pairs of trains daily. About 800 truck drivers needed to transport the same amount of cargo.

Contship’s inland terminal, Rail Hub Milan (in Melzo) runs daily train services to several ports and logistics hubs including La Spezia, Genoa, Ravenna, Padua, Bari, Basel, Zurich, Rotterdam, Vienna, Duisburg and Munich.

Head of marketing and communication at Contship Italia Group, Daniele Testi, said: “We foresee more and more companies in the logistics sector will begin shifting a significant amount of goods to rail in order to reduce the mobility of people (drivers) across Europe and reduce the carbon footprint. Contship is actively supporting our clients in the transition process to minimize any impact.

Contship’s rail freight transport is already operating in ‘contactless mode’ with increased hygiene practices and maintaining social distancing to ensure a safe working place for our employees and in full accordance with the government requirements.

Indeed, it adds: “The current situation is in fact a wake-up call, for us to rethink how we can improve the modal shift. A better ratio between road and rail will make supply chains more resilient to risk and unforeseen circumstances. The market is experiencing the issues of modal shift only when is becoming an urgent need, but it takes time and equipment to build a reliable intermodal solution. It can’t be built overnight. Our industry must think ahead.”

Some train frequencies have been reduced in line with demand but to try and avoid a backlog and yard congestion at maritime terminals, Contship is keeping the train services from La Spezia, Genoa and Ravenna to Melzo, Padua and Reggio Emilia as frequent as possible.

Meanwhile, Italian Industry has rallied together to provide a systemic offer of integrated storage and logistics solutions Since March 27, the North Tyrrhenian port system is faced with the challenge of managing thousands of TEUs coming into Northern Italy that cannot be delivered to companies for at least two weeks. In La Spezia Container Terminal Contship has committed with the local port community to make available a number of storage and transport solutions including 100,000teu at its intermodal-hubs in Milano (RHM Melzo), Dinazzano (Reggio Emilia) and Padova (Veneto) as well as locally, within a radius of 15km from La Spezia Container Terminal.

To ensure the delivery of perishable goods, CS is also offering cooled solutions for perishable cargo, such as fruits, vegetables and medical supplies, in 45ft high-cube reefer containers, with integrated generator sets between Italy and The Netherlands in cooperation with its partner DistriRail, Rotterdam. It runs a daily train connection offering capacity for all types of full loaded containers, varying from 20ft, 30ft, a 40-High Cube to 45ft, 30ft tanks and reefers.

When the crisis is finally over, as manufacturing resumes normal operations and catches up with backlog demand, there will likely be a surge in containerized import and exports, Contship adds. To cope with sudden demand, Contship is ready to increase its own-asset intermodal and handling solutions to better service clients, adding: “We also hope that Italy, being the first country affected by the outbreak, will be also the first country to exit from the peak of the crisis.”

Contship Italia Group’s Hannibal subsidiary has jointly organized a webinar with DistriRail, Rotterdam’s largest privately owned rail and logistics services provider, to share their intermodal alternatives and cool solutions for intra-EU and short-sea trades moving between the Netherlands and northern Italy, amid the current disruption.