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Opening of Vado Gateway set to transform logistics in northern Italy

The new Vado Gateway container terminal, launched today in Vado Ligure and operated by APM Terminals, sets a new standard for port infrastructure in Italy. The facility is unique in terms of services and technology, from its automated yard to its truck appointment system.

Vado Gateway is the most important port infrastructure development in Italy over the last decades and the result of a 450-million-euro investment. APM Terminals, with a share of 50.1%, has invested 180 million in the project (43 million provided by project financing). Chinese Partners Cosco Shipping Ports have a 40% share and Qingdao Port International a 9.9% share.

The terminal was commissioned by Autorità di Sistema Portuale del Mar Ligure Occidentale (Western Ligurian Sea System Port Authority), which will now entrust APM Terminals with the management of the facility for the next 50 years.

During a ceremony attended by the Vice-Minister for Italian Infrastructures and Transport Mr. Salvatore Margiotta, Paolo Cornetto, managing director of APM Terminals Vado Ligure, said: “We are proud that this project phase has been completed successfully and we are now ready to operate our new terminal. Thanks to great collaboration with all our partners and authorities, we have been able to overcome challenges and can now focus on offering our customers excellent service.”

The Vado Gateway terminal is expected to significantly increase the competitiveness of the Ligurian and Italian port infrastructure, making it a true hub for cargo moving to the northern part of the country, as well as markets north of Italy, such as Switzerland, Germany or north-east France. It is therefore referred to as one of the maritime terminals on the “New Silk Road”.

The new terminal has already secured two important services operated by A.P. Moller-Maersk. Starting in February 2020, vessels on Maersk’s ME2 service, connecting the Mediterranean to the Middle East and India, and MMX service, connecting the Mediterranean to North America, will call Vado Gateway.

Increasing capacity to more than 1.1 million TEU

In addition to the newly opened facility, APM Terminals Vado Ligure also operates the adjacent Vado Ligure Reefer Terminal, the largest logistic hub in the Mediterranean dedicated to fruit. Once fully operating, Vado Gateway capacity will amount to circa 900,000 TEUs per year, which, together with the 250,000 TEUs of the Reefer Terminal, will allow the Port of Vado to handle over one million TEUs every year.

Vado Gateway is a semi-automated terminal, which significantly increases the competitiveness of the Ligurian and Italian port infrastructure. It will initially operate on a 450-metre part of the quay, but from July 2020 its whole 700-metre extension will be available for use.

With a draft at quay level of 17.25 metres and height of 4.5 metres above sea level, Vado Gateway will be able to accommodate and operate the latest generation Ultra Large Container Ships (ULCS) without any limitations. Vado Gateway is also equipped with the latest technologies, most notably its state-of-the-art cranes.

First fully-automated yard in Italy

The yard used for container storage and handling is the first in Italy to be completely automated. Automatic Rail Mounted Gantry (ARMG) cranes will work autonomously under the remote supervision of highly specialised operators. This will guarantee the highest safety standards, as no personnel will be present in this area while containers are being moved. Access to the yard will only be allowed for maintenance work when the cranes are not operating.

The containers unloaded at Vado Gateway will be immediately recorded with a dynamic video camera set on the ship-to-shore (STS) cranes, and the information sent to the Terminal Operating System (TOS). The system, highly advanced and fully integrated with all other equipment, allows real time tracking of each container. 

Container handling from the quay to internal exchange areas, and from there to the yard and exchange areas for road transport (exchange grid), will be carried out by straddle carriers - hybrid-powered equipment with an operator on board, receiving instructions directly from the TOS. 

Vado Gateway will be equipped with one of the most technologically advanced systems in Italy for the access of trucks. 14 highly-automated, reversible lanes provide access to the terminal, facilitating flow management by means of the truck appointment system. Truck drivers arriving at the access gate will have previously booked their appointment and received relevant confirmation via a web interface connected to the information systems. Upon arrival at the port, they will proceed through an optical reader, which will identify the driver by the vehicle number plate and container number.

Rail connection to transport 40% of containers

Another important feature is the intermodal connection potential. APM Terminals’ target is to move 40% of containers arriving to or departing from Vado Gateway by rail, taking advantage of the rail infrastructure which is currently under development in Vado. Initially, around 4-5 trains will connect Vado with several intermodal hubs in the North and East of the country, including Milano and Padova, but the number is forecast to increase over time.

Jointly, Vado Gateway and the Reefer Terminal will employ around 390 people (240 from Vado Gateway and 150 from Reefer Terminal) by the end of January 2020. The majority will be covered by a framework agreement signed with the Trade Unions a year ago. Once the terminal is fully operational, the Vado Gateway will employ more than 300.

A significant number of employees have been hired thanks to training and requalification programmes developed specifically for the unemployed. These will provide new opportunities in an area which was recently hit by the industrial crisis and has witnessed the closing or downsizing of several large companies.