TransLogMED: Training, Inclusive Growth And Sustainable Development

Motorways of the sea are the major push for intermodal-based maritime traffic which the European Union has undertaken with the goal of lowering road traffic saturation and offering a sustainable alternative to road transport. This transport modality is the point of departure for the TransLogMED project.

Posted on 07.30.2018
Several Mediterranean ports, like Rome, pictured here, take part in this project. [Image of Albin Berlin]

TransLogMED is a project spearheaded by the European School-Intermodal Transport which seeks to promote international cooperation through intermodal transport. “There are five partners participating in the project: Port of Barcelona, the Port of Genoa, the Port of Civitavecchia (Rome), and two shipping companies: Grimaldi Lines and Grandi Navi Veloci (of the MSC Group)”, says Eduard Rodés, director of the European School-Intermodal Transport. Currently Spain, Italy, Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria and the two most recent members, Egypt and Jordan, are participating in the project.

The main objective of TransLogMED is to improve the competencies and capacities of the transport and logistics operators on the coasts of the Mediterranean Sea. “We are spreading the word about the characteristics of this kind of transport directly in the participating countries, as well as offering training courses. We also handle exchanges of knowledge and study trips to Barcelona for employees in the public administrations or the logistics sector. In this way, they can see and learn about the operations we are carrying out here”, Eduard Rodés continued.

Furthermore, the training is conducted onboard ships during the commercial routes that the ferries themselves cover. This approach is inspired by the ancient tradition of training ships, which gives these programmes an innovative, unique appeal that attracts participants from all over the world to Barcelona. In fact, 100% of the students in the TransLogMED project are international.

The main objective of TransLogMED is to improve the skills and capabilities of transport and logistics operators on the coasts of the Mediterranean Sea.

La visibilidad de los puertos del sur de Europa, como el de Génova, en la imagen, forma parte de los objetivos del proyecto. [Imagen de Francesco Boncompagni]

The visibility of the ports of southern Europe, such as that of Genoa, is part of the project's objectives. [Image of Francesco Boncompagni]

Buildings bridges with the southern Mediterranean

For a route to be considered a motorway of the sea and be part of the Trans-European Transport Network, it has to be a real alternative to the motorway and have high frequencies (at least 3 departures per week) and a high cargo capacity. This is the way to guarantee that the services of intermodal logistics chains are fully integrated. The intermodality provided by the motorways of the sea offer a host of advantages:
  1. They cause a lower environmental impact than transport solely by motorway. In essence, the motorways of the sea are combined transport that have a lower environmental impact while allowing for sustainable growth.
  2. They create jobs. “We have changed the way we consume and distribute… now everything is much more fluid. Logistics is capable of generating 20% more jobs than other sectors”, claims the expert.
  3. More companies can use this kind of service, since it is an improved transport system and makes them more competitive. And this applies not only to large companies but also SMEs, since intermodal transport facilitates smaller shipments, cargo consolidation, greater agility and shorter delivery times (factors which are critical in maritime logistics today).
  4. Specifically in the Mediterranean, they make southern ports more visible thanks to the efforts of the TransLogMED project.

Among the objectives of the development of the Motorways of the Sea in southern Europe are reducing the environmental impact of transport, generating jobs, improving the competitiveness of companies in the area and giving visibility to southern ports.

The importance of digitalisation

In the region where TransLogMED is taking place, the importance of logistics digitalisation is prime. Digital solutions are a key part to ensure that this project works fluidly in the exchange of both information and documents. The development of procedures for goods to pass through all the agents involved in maritime logistics is one of the issues that has to be resolved and streamlined. “It doesn’t make much sense to have very quick services when the lorry takes three days to get through Customs”, says Rodés, who adds that the SafeSeaNet, the network created by the EU that tracks all the maritime systems within the European coasts, is a good start. This digital system allows Customs matters to be much more efficient. A digital revolution is also underway in document exchange processes, especially in Europe, just as it is with digital systems for ship entry and admission. Specifically, right now the southern Mediterranean countries are developing one-stop solutions to streamline Customs operations.

Natural gas as a maritime fuel

One of the most valuable features of intermodal transport is sustainability. In this sense, the energy transition is a must. Thus, natural gas will be one of the basic fuel sources in the maritime sector in the forthcoming years, and both ports and shipping companies are getting ready for it. “There’s a lot of innovation in this direction, such as hybrid ships. Grimaldi is planning ships which will get energy from lithium batteries they carry onboard while docked in the port. In Port of Barcelona, a liquefied natural gas (LNG) engine has been developed which provides energy to ferries from the wharf”, states the director of the European School. In the future, alternative fuels like LNG and new energy solutions will contribute to making the motorways of the sea an even more sustainable means of transport.