Katharina Lehmann-Kaschel
is a communicator in the Rail Cargo Group
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A multi-purpose port

Central Europe’s gateway to the world

The port of Koper is one of the Adriatic’s fastest-growing ports, with a prime geographical location which makes it attractive for international businesses.

We are constantly increasing volumes to and from Koper – and we are not the only ones. The port of Koper is the most northerly of the Adriatic ports. It offers optimum accessibility thanks to rail links and a high-quality road network. The port is considered Austria’s gateway to the world for foreign trade, and links central and eastern Europe with the Mediterranean. Meanwhile, road links to Gibraltar and the Suez Canal connect it to the Americas and Far East.

(c)Erwan-hesry

The Austrian market

The port of Koper is one of the most important ports for Austria. Operating round the clock in shifts, it transshipped some 22 million tonnes of goods in 2016. Around one third of incoming and outgoing shipments either originate from Austria or are bound for the Austrian market. The circa 700 Austrian local subsidiaries based in Slovenia show to what extent the two countries’ economies are intertwined. Austria is Slovenia’s biggest investor, representing one third of all foreign investment.

Growing volumes of RCG traffic

Koper is one of the ports we serve most. Since 2012 traffic has increased continuously, with just under 8 million tonnes carried in the 2016 financial year. Between 2012 and 2016, tonnes carried increased by around 20 per cent, and in 2016 we moved 2.6 million tonnes of goods to the port of Koper. The biggest share of the pie was the automobile industry, with 406,000 tonnes, followed by paper end-consumers, with 373,000 tonnes carried. The port of Koper has successfully attracted substantial business from the automobile industry: for instance, in late 2015 Mercedes-Benz opened a new transport hub there for new vehicles going from Europe to Asia. Via Koper, vehicles from various Mercedes-Benz plants across Germany, Hungary, Slovenia and Magna (Austria) are shipped to China, Singapore, and Brunei. In 2016, we also carried some 5.4 million tonnes of outbound freight from Koper. By far the biggest end-consumer was Voest Energy, with three million tonnes, followed by the automobile industry, with 553,000 tonnes carried. In 2016, we ran 3,344 trains under in-house production between the port of Koper and Villach, Hodos, Dobova and Sentjur, a 14.6 per cent increase on the previous year. The automobile industry once more represented the lion’s share of this traffic.

(c)RCG/L.Beck

Increasing our stake

Intereuropa-FLG d.o.o. can look back on a long and illustrious corporate history, and has been part of Rail Cargo Group since 2005. In March 2017, Rail Cargo Logistics – Austria increased its stake in the firm from 50 % to 74 %, thus becoming the majority shareholder in Intereuropa-FLG, now rechristened Rail Cargo Logistics d.o.o.. In upping our share in Intereuropa-FLG from 50 % to 74 %, Rail Cargo Logistics is expanding its railway logistics business for customers on the Slovenian market. The firm’s portfolio of services ranges from conventional rail freight to containerised transport, with a particular focus on intermodal shipping via the Adriatic seaports. Transit traffic via the port of Koper, including all port-related services, is a particular speciality.

Breakneck development

The port of Koper first opened in 1957, since when it has expanded continuously, with steady growth in volumes in recent years. Net sales grew by nine per cent between 2015 and 2016, to 191.7 million euros. In 2016, the port of Koper transshipped a total of 844,758 TEUs, a seven per cent increase on the previous year. Container tonnage was 8.27 million tonnes (+ 7 %), with particularly strong growth in the vehicle segment. A total of 749,006 units were transhipped between January and December, equating to a 23 per cent increase on 2015. Bulk goods volumes in 2016 were two per cent up, at 7.47 million tonnes.

(c)Pexels

Investment

The signs all point to further expansion: the port’s 280-hectare site is set to be extended to over 400 hectares. The port also plans to increase handling capacity to cope with annual volumes of 35 million tonnes. Between now and 2020, the port will undergo a 290 million-euro upgrade and modernisation programme. 28 million euros have already been invested in crane rails for the container terminal – which is able to receive ships with a draught of up to 14.5 metres – and in new rail tracks and a rail bridge. And that is not all: money has also gone into three new tanks for liquid bulk goods, handling areas for road vehicles, and new HGV recharging stations. Demand for depot services from hinterland customers, specifically the Austria market, is also being met, in the shape of a new multi-purpose warehouse for dry bulk and general cargo.

New rail link

As concerns imports into Europe, the port of Koper is more dependent than any other on its connections to the rail network: some two thirds of all incoming goods continue their journey by rail. In April 2017, it was decided to build a new high-capacity rail link between the port of Koper and the hinterland. The estimated cost of the 27-kilometre line is approximately one billion euros, with the majority of the investment cost to be borne by Slovenia. Other countries using the port may also contribute, topped up with EU funding and European Investment Bank (EIB) loans.

(c)RCG/Luka

Facts & figures

The port of Koper is a multi-purpose port located on the Gulf of Trieste at the northern end of the Adriatic Sea. The water in the port ranges in depth from seven to 18 metres, allowing ships with a capacity of up to 180,000 tonnes to dock. The entire port area has the status of a free economic zone. All the terminals are located directly on the coast and are equipped with modern transshipment, transport and storage facilities.

 

Sources: APA, 24.4.2017; Österreichische Verkehrszeitung, 23.01.2017; Verkehrsrundschau, 12.9.2016; Wirtschaftskammer Kärnten, 30.6.2016; Logistik-Kongress, Juni 2016; OWC Verlag für Außenwirtschaft, 17.2.2016; ORF, Servus, 5.7.2014; www.adrianews.com