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The Italian motorways of the sea system: current situation, policies and prospects

By Danesi A., Lepori C. and Lupi M.


The EU transport policy supports the development of the motorways of the sea (MOS) network as a priority axis of the Trans European Transport Network (TEN-T). In the general context of the EU transport policy and legislation, the Italian national authorities recognise the specific role of motorways of the sea links as one of the strategic action areas that can facilitate the mobility of freight. In this paper, the state of the art regarding the implementation of the MOS program in Italy is illustrated, with special regard to the services now in operation and the specific transport policy initiatives promoted by the Italian national authorities. Following the “Piano Generale della Mobilità”, published by the Italian Ministry of Transport in 2007, ports, together with airports and railway terminals, are included in the list of the so-called “international doors”, which are considered to be the most important nodes of the Italian transport network as a whole. The “Piano Generale della Mobilità” aims to encourage the development of synergies and to increase the level of integration between lo-lo and ro-ro services, which deploy more or less the same amount of capacity. In 2002 the Italian government promoted the so-called “Ecobonus” initiative. In 2004 it set up a new government-controlled company, Rete Autostrade Mediterranee (R.A.M.), with the specific task to support and co-ordinate actions for the development of motorways of the sea services at the national and European level. The Ecobonus is an incentive that the Italian national authorities offer to the trucking community in order to shift traffic volumes from road to motorways of the sea routes involving Italian ports. The Ecobonus accounts for up to 30% of the price of the ticket and it is offered to those truckers who opt for the sea instead of the road, with a particular premium for truckers who reach a high number of trips/year (1600). This kind of premium aims also to enhance the pooling of small operators. Both national and EU routes to be promoted through the ecobonus initiative are identified by the Italian Law. In this work, for each Italian domestic and international scheduled MOS route, the operator, the weekly frequency, the average travel time, the sea distance and the price have been identified and reported. Nowadays, traffic volumes on Italian MOS represent 5% of the total freight traffic volumes served by the Italian inland motorway system and an amount of 8% is the target-value expected for year 2011. A total amount of 460 return trips on 79 routes are operated by 39 companies. The average route length and the average speed are equal to 536 km and 34 km/h respectively. The most important operator that serves Italian ports with MOS lines is Grimaldi Group Napoli, which accounts for the 13% of the services in km per week. 24 Italian ports offer motorways of the sea services and Genoa, Ancona and Civitavecchia ports are the top three for km per week of scheduled MOS services. The price-distance functions for MOS services to/from Italian ports have been calculated, for a full-load 16-metre-long truck. The price rises, as travel distance increases. Nevertheleses, distance explains only a part of the variance of price with respect to a linear relationship between price and route length and actually prices strongly depend on the particular shipping company that operates the line. It can be noted that, actually, no Italian domestic continental motorways of the sea line is in operation yet, despite the Italian peninsula is characterised by two quite long “natural” motorways of the sea corridors like the Tyrrhenian and Adriatic Seas. Indeed, MOS will effectively succeed to determine a modal shift towards waterway transport, only if they provide services whose quality and competitiveness are comparable to road transport. Both the efficiency of ports and the cruise speed are crucial elements for MOS lines to compete against road-only transport

Publisher: Faculty of Maritime Studies and Transport
Year: 2008
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