Rome has threatened to withdraw the concession of Mecdenter Container Terminal at the Port of Gioia Tauro unless MSC and Contship Italia begin a programme of investments
At any rate, during a visit to Gioia Tauro a week before Christmas hosted by Contship Italia’s President Cecilia Battistello, Italy’s Transport Miinister Danilo Toninelli revealed that the government has effectively given MSC and Contship Italia an ultimatum – either get the agreed investment programme under way or the concession will be revoked.
Toninelli described the situation at the Calabrian port as disastrous, citing the 16% fall in container traffic in 2017 and a further 8% decline during H1 2018.
He claimed that "we already have alternative potential investors knocking on the doors at Genoa [who are also prepared] to relaunch the port of Gioia Tauro.
"I have appealed to both MSC and Contship to step up their investments and have promised them, by way of incentivising them, the maximum commitment from the government’s side to relaunch the intermodal rail hinterland linkages."
Referring to the inauguration of Rail Hub Gioia Tauro, Toninelli added: "Not surprisingly, within days a new rail link to the docks themselves will be completed.
"We hope that there is the will to make intermodal rail transport take off, as there is potential for 20 train pairs/day linking the port with Northern Italy and points north of the Alps."
Whether, in view of the 1,200 kms rail distance from the toe of Italy to the north, this is a realistic prospect, is open to question, but as a transhipment operation, Medcenter is being hammered by other transhipment ports in the Eastern and Central Mediterranean, and the authorities’ constant battle with N’Dragheta for control over the region continues to drag the port down.
Rail Hub Gioia Tauro is open access. Clearly, Contship Italia Group is in a strong position to supply services through its Oceanogate rail traction arm and its main inland intermodal terminal, Rail Hub Milano in Melzo.