The connection of the to a rail corridor into France “is essential for achieving the Port of Barcelona’s strategic objective of becoming the main gateway in the south of Europe and the Mediterranean for cargo, principally from Asia” said Sixte Cambra, president of the Barcelona Port Authority (APB).
The rail corridor will also allow a more sustainable and balanced logistics system to be created between the north and south of the European continent. In excess of 18m containers are transported each year by sea between Asia and Europe, via the Suez Canal and the Mediterranean. However, 75% of this cargo volume is unloaded in northern European ports before redistribution to the rest of the continent through a broad network of rail and inland waterway connections. By contrast, only 25% of this cargo is unloaded in Mediterranean ports.
The new rail infrastructure will help redress this balance, and also contribute to more efficient logistic chains and global cargo flows. “The rail corridor will have a decisive impact on the ability of Mediterranean ports to gain a greater share of this cargo, allowing shipping companies to reduce their transit time by three or four days in relation to northern European ports, with the corresponding reduction in CO² and NOx emissions and considerable savings in fuel and operating costs”, declared Cambra.
Another consequence of the development of the rail corridor is that industry in the area will become more competitive. By providing an alternative to congested land transport corridors, the new rail infrastructure will allow companies located in its area of influence to position their products in the European market more quickly and effectively.
The new infrastructure will also help reinforce the Port of Barcelona’s strategy to boost the hinterland, via a broad network of inland terminals (Zaragoza, Azuqueca de Henares, Toulouse and Perpignan, among others at the planning stage), which are connected to the port area by train.
In recent years, the Port of Barcelona’s support for the rail network has produced important results. In 2010 the volume of containers transported to the port by train grew 75%. This year, the rail traffic of containers had grown by 65% by September. According to the September results, 11% of all container traffic passing through the port (excluding transhipment) arrived or departed by train. This figure represents a significant increase on just five years ago, when the market share of rail-transported goods in the port was 2.5%.