MSC is set to further extend its presence in the Italian rail freight market after agreeing to form a joint-venture with Italian state-owned rail operator Ferrovie dello Stato Italiane (FS) to “expand the freight logistics network between Italian and European ports”.
Via its overland transport and logistics subsidiary, Medlog, the world’s largest shipping line signed an MoU with FS’s logistics division, Mercitalia Logistics, to create a company – in which the partners will have a 49% and 51% stake respectively – to focus on developing increased terminal handling capacity at Italian ports and shift more container cargo from road to rail.
Giuseppe Prudente, chief logistics officer of MSC Group and president of Medlog said: “This important agreement is the result of a project that began with the ambition of creating one of the most important operators in Europe, offering customers optimised and ever more sustainable logistics solutions.”
He added that “reducing the use of long-distance road transport contributes not only to lowering emissions, but also to greater safety and quality of life for our employees.”
Mercitalia Logistics CEO Sabrina De Filippis explained that the MoU signalled FS’s “commitment to becoming the European logistics player”. She said: “The agreement is part of the initiatives envisaged in our business plan, providing for the strengthening of existing terminals and the creation of new technologically advanced and low environmental impact multimodal hubs.
“This will enable us to increase the volume of goods transported by train, thanks to the increasingly effective connection of our ports and terminals to the national network and to European railway corridors, consolidating the integration of sea-rail-road transport systems.”
The joint-venture would be another jigsaw piece in the emerging picture of an MSC in the nascent stages of creating a pan-European land transport network, spearheaded by Medlog. It has become increasingly understood that one of the key motivations for its impending takeover of Hamburg operator HHLA is its central and eastern Europe intermodal network, Metrans, one of the largest in Europe.
Interestingly, HHLA’s last deal before MSC’s takeover bid was its September 2020 acquisition of Trieste box terminal Piattaforma Logistica Trieste, with the specific intention of linking the Adriatic port into its European network.
Meanwhile Italy’s largest terminal operator, Contship Italia, part of Germany’s Eurogate Group, has spent much of the past two decades developing intermodal links into central and northern Europe as a way of enlarging the hinterland of its Italian ports.