Training, new technologies and virtual worlds

By Eduard Rodés, Escola Europea – Intermodal Transport

Yuval Noah Harari[1] , the historian-philosopher, an Israeli public intellectual, and a professor in the Department of History at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem stressed in his work Homo Deus that the truly unique feature of the homo sapiens is its ability to create and believe in fiction. All other animals use their communication system to describe reality. We use our communication system to create new realities.

Developments in digital technologies applied to images have made the distance between reality and fiction increasingly smaller, and thus more difficult to distinguish. A magnificent example of this mix between the two worlds is Steven Spielberg’s film Ready Player One[2]. It tells the story of a teenager who likes to escape from the increasingly bleak real world in which he lives through a popular virtual utopia called “Oasis”. The alternation between reality and fiction and the permanent interaction between the two worlds gives this story a suggestive effect in which a new world that seems very credible is imagined.

The film’s own evolution is linked to a second brilliant reflection by Harari: the secret of the Homo Sapiens’ success is large-scale flexible cooperation. In the case of the film, it is the capacity for cooperation and teamwork between some of the characters that helps the protagonist to reach his goals.

Thus, technology, virtualization, consistency, resilience, teamwork and cooperation become basic vectors of progress.

Something similar is happening in the world of education. The Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated a vital digitalization process. Increasingly classes are being held remotely. The most important thing, nevertheless, is that a process of reinterpreting of things that can be done online has irreversibly begun.

Simulation: The beginnings

Part of the digitization process began long ago with the development of simulators that were especially designed for vehicle-related operations: ships, planes, trucks, cranes, etc. Today, very sophisticated facilities exist in which many hours of practice can be put in to gain skills, and face difficult situations – something that would be impossible to do in a real environment. All of this can be done at a relatively low cost compared to what it would have cost in reality.

Augmented reality is slowly spreading to all areas of our lives

Simply zeroing on the road, and looking at the most complex and difficult industry, we can look at the Racing scene. On the 15th of April, six Formula 1 drivers have participated in a new “simracing” championship in a virtual environment called “Race for the World”. The race took place without any loss of hardware, equipment, and did not endanger the lives of the formula drivers should mistakes or unforeseen circumstances occur.

Formula 1 racing is no longer only simulated in arcades

In Spain, good simulators for trucks or railways, and even traffic control centres, can be acquired from the Basque company Lander[3]. They offer a great variety of vehicles and a wide range of virtual scenarios in which to practice.

Another example that is particularly interesting is the[4] Vstep company, which has designed platforms with bridge simulators, either of a tug, river navigation, military vessels, offshore operations or fishing boats. The company also offers simulators for emergency situations, both on land and at sea. The simulator allows the configuration of all kinds of weather situations and available human and material resources – making it particularly attractive to the industry actors from all company sizes and varying at a relatively low cost compared to what it would cost to do it in the real vehicle climates.

Simulators for the aviation sector were among those that developed very quickly, fuelled by the high cost of training hours, the high value of the aircraft and the risky nature of operations. Today all airlines work with simulators to train their pilots.  For example, should you wish to do so, the company Virgin[5] allows you to practice with a Boeing 747 cockpit simulator for a reasonable price; the training includes an introduction class and the possibility of choosing the departure and arrival airport. It is called the Virgin Experience Days and it is difficult to tell where the training begins and the fun ends.

Example of a flight simulator console

What is clear is that simulators make experiences possible, and this has led to a new culture surrounding this type of experience. Last year we had an exhibition in Barcelona, in Port Vell,  entitled ‘Meet Vincent van Gogh’ – an experience of getting into the painter’s shoes. This was a multimedia montage, called an immersive experiences, in which you could play a 3D reproduction of The Sunflowers, sit at one of the tables in the Parisian café Le Tambourin, take a selfie on the bed in the yellow room in Arles, paint with the painter’s palette or get on the harvest cart. It was a virtual reality that took you into another world – an unforgettable experience. From an educational perspective, as a teaching method it seems without a doubt effective. The emotional impact of the lived experience is sure to leave an indelible mark, and is arguably more effective than visiting the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam.

Simulation in the classroom

Simulators are not new – for some years now business simulators have been developed as a teaching and learning method. A Simulated Company is a student-run company that operates like a real business. It simulates the procedures, products and services of a real company with its structure and organization. Guided by a monitor or coach and business mentors, students create their Simulated Companies, growing them from product development, through production and distribution to marketing, sales, human resources, accounting/finance and web design. As “employees” of the Simulated Company, the students are responsible for its management and, through the methodology of “learning by doing”, they develop new competences. They carry out market research, place advertisements, buy, plan logistics, sell simulated products or services and pay salaries, taxes, publish profits, etc. Each company engages in commercial activities, both nationally and internationally, with other companies in the Simulated[6]Companies network, following standard commercial procedures and actions.

In this case, the virtualization of companies to create simulation environments present in the educational sphere would bring us closer to a current trend called digital twins. DHL[7], in a 2019 study on digital twins in logistics, defined them as another step towards bringing the real and fictional worlds closer together. The gap is beginning to close. Developments in the Internet of Things (IoT), big data, artificial intelligence, cloud computing and virtual reality technologies herald a turning point where the physical and digital worlds can be managed as one, and we can interact with the digital side of physical things just as we would with things themselves, even in the physical 3D space around us.

You will read this article in a digital environment. You may use the links to the Internet I have left to go deeper into the topics I have pointed out. And your connection to the real world will be the connection that you and I have given you. And don’t be too sure that I am not a computer. Physical reality and virtual reality are beginning to blend into each other, and that will change everything.’










3D model of globe - view of Europe

The aftermath of COVID-19 in the Mediterranean

This year the Escola Europea, along with 10 partners from around the Mediterranean, will launch a new pan-Mediterranean project in the framework of the European Neighbourhood Instrument (ENI-CBCMED). The project, called YEPMED (“Youth Employment in the Ports of the Mediterranean”), will work towards the development of port-logistics training and vocational (TVET) resources adapted to sector needs to strengthen youth employability in Tunisia, Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan, France, Italy and Spain. This in turn will increase and upgrade local employment opportunities through the creation of real dual-learning programmes with job placements; and help set up collaborative national and transnational partnerships between port-logistics associations, operators, SMEs, training centres and VET providers, whilst introducing a PPP co-management process. The ambitious project is scheduled to run from 2020 to 2023.

When looking at any situation related to our industry, but in particular when looking at employment opportunities and trends, it is always prudent to take in the national and international context. This year the whole world was faced with an extremely potent and dangerous enemy – a new and extremely rapid strain of coronavirus – and we have already begun to see the consequences of the pandemic on the social, cultural and economic spheres. In this article we explore what exactly is the situation in the countries that are involved in YEPMED, in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic.


The government asked the Tunisian Parliament for powers to issue emergency decrees for a period of 2 months, starting in April 4, 2020. The government stressed the imperative to engage in continuous re-assessment, to ensure the success of the three stages of deconfinement. The first stage has run from May 4 to 24, the second from May 25 to June 4, and the third (currently active) from June 5 to July 14, 2020. Restriction of movement between regions was lifted on June 4 and the country’s borders will re-open on June 27.


On 21 March, Prime Minister Hassan Diab Taboule in a televised speech urged people in Lebanon to implement a “self-imposed curfew,” adding that the lockdown measures will be enforced more strictly by the security forces. On 26 March, Lebanon imposed a partial curfew from 7 p.m. to 5 a.m. to try to slow the spread of the virus. On June 11, 2020, A curfew remains in place daily from 12 midnight until 5:00 a.m., to include private vehicular travel. The Lebanese government has extended the general mobilization until July 5, 2020.  Rafic Hariri International airport has been closed to regularly-scheduled commercial flights since March 19. It will remain closed until at least June 21.


In March 2020, Egypt has adopted many measures to stop the spreading of the virus, including suspending mass prayers at mosques, and shutting down of churches and other spiritual havens. The country also shut down shopping malls, restaurants, coffee shops, and nightclubs overnight, in addition to imposing a curfew starting from 8pm to 6am. On April 7, 2020, President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi called for the reduction of employees working in offices across Egypt, aiming to avoid a pattern of suspensions of work. He demanded that more employees be allowed to work from home, to curb the spread of the coronavirus (Covid-19). Starting on May 30, every person is required to wear a facemask when entering all public institutions and public and private transportation. Egypt will open up its main seaside resorts for international flights and foreign tourists from July 1. The Government of Egypt will review all measures in mid-June.


On March 25, 2020 a state of emergency and curfew was declared. As of the 3rd of May, 2020, most sectors were allowed to resume work gradually, but schools, universities, gyms, public gatherings, church and mosque sermons remained banned, and a curfew from 7 pm to 8am remains in place as well as a curfew on Fridays. On May 21, the Government of Jordan announced the continued suspension of regular commercial passenger flights to and from Queen Alia International Airport through June 4, 2020. On May 29, the Government of Jordan announced that airports in Jordan will remain closed through July 1, 2020. The Government of Jordan announced that everyone must adhere to social distancing rules and wear masks and gloves when entering public places (including ministries, government departments, official and public institutions), and when entering places where services are provided directly to the public (including companies, institutions, malls, stores, medical clinics and health centers, cellular communications companies, electricity and water companies, banks, offices, buses, taxis, public vehicles and private vehicles with more than one person). Anyone violating the order is currently facing a fine.


On March 17, 2020, the French Government announced the nation-wide lockdown. The French Government has announced the second phase of deconfinement, which began on June 2, 2020. The 100 km limit on travel within France, which was in place since March, no longer applies. Groups are still limited to a maximum of 10 people in public spaces. Certain public services have gradually been allowed to open. Phase two is expected to last until at least June 21, 2020. Phase 3 of de-confinement is looming from June 22, 2020, and the government has provisionally set the date for the end of the state of health emergency next July 10. Exceptional measures could be maintained until November 10. On June 15, border restrictions and travel into France from European countries is planned to be lifted. Nevertheless, the decision on whether to relax/open border restrictions on arrivals into France from outside of the European Union is still pending.


On March 11, 2020, the Italian Government began the nationwide lockdown, following a dramatic outbreak in the Bergamo region. The lockdown was the strictest in Europe, and lasted for nearly two months. Gradual opening of activities started May 4, 2020. On May 17, 2020, the Italian government issued a decree providing that from June 3, 2020, persons traveling to Italy from member states of the European Union are permitted to enter in the country, with exemption for quarantine. For those traveling from other countries, travel to Italy will be allowed only for proven work, urgent health needs, or to return to their places of residence. Those travelers are required to self-isolate for 14 days under the supervision of health authorities, either at home or another address of their choosing.



The Spanish Government started the lockdown on March 16 2020. Gradual opening of activities started on the 4th of May 2020. Spain’s nationwide State of Emergency will remain in effect until June 21, 2020. The Spanish government is gradually relaxing some confinement measures in phases over the weeks leading up to then. Confinement measures will vary from region to region within Spain. At the time of writing, Spain’s air, land and sea borders remain closed for entry, excluding the land border with Andorra, with limited exceptions. This includes the land borders with Portugal, France, and Morocco (Ceuta and Melilla) and the sea borders in the Canary and Balearic Islands, as well as the sea ports in mainland Spain, with limited exceptions. At the time of writing, only Spanish citizens or citizens/legal residents of EU or Schengen countries may enter Spain.



The current strain of Coronavirus has greatly affected the social and economic paradigms present throughout the world – and with the impending recession the economic consequences seem dire. It will be years before the countries can go back to pre-Covid realities – in the cultural, educational and transport sectors in particular (among others). This is why international partnerships and projects that work towards the improvement of cross-border cooperation and the sharing of know-how are now pivotal for economic recovery. Without a functioning logistics sector, the economy of a country cannot recover. Without maritime transport, 80% of global freight and more than half of consumer fuel will not be delivered – vital for global recover and geopolitics. This is particularly true in the Mediterranean, where the existing and developing links between countries in the North and South of the basin, as well as between the West and East, are becoming essential lifelines in recovery. All of this needs to be considered at while at the same time keeping up with any digital innovations and smart technologies incorporated and developed by actors in the transport sector, along with the environmental factors that exist to ensure the health and safety of our Blue Economy (and by extension the globe).

YEP-MED will work exactly with this mission in mind – to help share knowledge, facilitate economic recovery and ease social strain by providing employment opportunities to people on the southern and northern shores of the Mediterranean basin. As economies open up following months-long lockdowns in the seven countries, the Escola and its partners are beginning to work to bear fruit of this new initiative. Stay tuned!


More links: 

Smart Seals: Spotlight on Shellock

Throughout centuries, research and innovation have driven human progress forward. In the maritime sector, blue innovation in particular is key towards the advancement of the industry – in particular against the backdrop of Covid-19 and the damage that it had done to the global economies. This month we caught up with representatives from Shellock, a logistics start-up located in Barcelona, to find out more about the innovative technologies they have been developing.


Shellock is a Logistics Startup, which provides real-time tracking to shipping containers. It combines its product – a service web platform for tracking and its corresponding smart and reusable seal – to make it possible to transparently track the different stages of the shipments throughout the whole supply chain, from origin to destination.

Shellock boasts a user-friendly interface

Shellock also has a huge environmental goal, which consists of eliminating the traditional single-use plastic seals for shipping containers. These plastic seals make 4,000 of plastic waste annually, slowly contributing to the devastation of the marine eco-system. Using Shellocks seals will eliminate the waste of these, as these smart seals are reusable. Moreover, ceasing the trade of the traditional seals can help reduce the emissions of 11 tons of CO2 annually for every 2,000 active Shellocks, further contributing to environmental conservation.

Example of cargo tracking in Shellock

Currently less than 1% of the shipping containers in service are being tracked in real time – presenting a huge opportunity for these kinds of solutions.

The Shellock platform is a web application that can be accessed by mobile devices and normal browsers on desktop or laptop computers. This is the space where the customers are able to see the real-life updates for their shipments. This information is presented in an intuitive and user-friendly dashboard, that details and records every event of the cargo’s trip, making possible to know when the cargo is (or) was transiting by road, sailing by sea, standing by in port or warehouse, etc. Shellock also provides a predictive time of arrival of the cargo and an alert management system, which gives alerts on any incidents such as, robbery, delays and impacts, in real time. Through all of this, the company outfits its customers with the necessary data to allow for better decision making. The format of the data collected is also integrable with others systems used by other actors in the supply chain, such as insurance companies, ports, etc.

Shellock realt-time tracking of cargo

What is a Shellock?

Shellock is an IoT (Internet of Things) device that starts to emit data to the online platform as soon as it is locked or attached to the door of the container. It is shaped like a padlock, making it familiar and thus easy to use in the market. This reusable IoT device has the autonomy to change network providers all around the globe, in order to keep emitting data and making the real-time visibility possible. It is also equipped with impact and anti-robbery sensors to track any incidents that may occur.

Prototype of a Shellock seal

A little bit of history

In May 2019, the founders met during the first maritime and blue logistics startup weekend, held in Barcelona by Techstars. Without knowing each other beforehand, the group created the team and the idea of Shellock was born after an intense and fun brainstorming session. The concept was so inspiring and enlightening, that it motivated the team in such a way that they forgot they were strangers, but felt that they had known each other for years.  This group of entrepreneurs spent three long days during the weekend, shaping the concept, developing the business plan, researching the competitors and preparing a presentation of the final proposal. On the third day, during a 5 minute-pitch, they presented Shellock to a jury compriisng high-rank professionals of the maritime and logistics industry. Shellock placed second in a long list of propsals. Following the award ceremony, a few managers from logistic enterprises approached them, asking the members whether they were planning to make Shellock a reality. And thus Shellock was born.

In January 2020, Shellock partnered with the Universitat de Barcelona and moved to its co-work space known as StartUb! In February, they started the Santander Incubation programme called “Explorer”. In April Shellock was chosen for an acceleration programme for maritime startups, which will be held in Haugesund, Norway and is organized by FLOW Maritime Accelerator. Through this programme the company has secured mentorships, help to approach potential customers and partners to run tests for a product market fit, and will receive help to get in touch with potential investors and other business opportunities. This is going to be a huge opportunity for this promising Startup, and will doubtlessly help reshape the shipping industry and scale-up its products and ventures.

In order to fulfill this dream of going to Norway, Shellock launched a crowdfunding campaign on–2 – / to cover some expenses for the trip to Haugesund and to help produce and optimise the first batch of Shellocks once the programme comes to an end.

Meet the team:

  • CEO – Carlos Garces: Marine Engineer and Full Stack Developer, with wide experience in software and hardware testing for Mercedes-Benz.
  • CPO – Adolfo Omar Calderon: Nautical Engineer in Navigation and Marine Transportation, with wide international experience working for Tidewater Martine and The Panama Canal.
  • CTO – Ferran Guasch: Electronic Engineer, with experience as testing Engineer for Mercedes-Benz and skilled in hardware development.

Do you want to join this movement?

The Shellock team has set up a crowdfunding campaign to help finance their progress. By contributing you won’t be only helping them, you will also join the sustainability movement, helping to reduce the use of plastic and lowering CO2 emissions in one of the biggest industries in the world. Shellock will give away t-shirts, mugs, and some accessories with the company logo, nice collector series Shellocks and will grant some space for sponsors on their website. If you are interested, you can access the campaign through the following link:–2#/

RePort project nearing its close – 26 trucks modified to run on natural gas

On the 10th of June 2020, the final training organised under the RePort project took place, which focused on the efficient driving techniques of vehicles equipped with natural gas. The participants followed strict health and safety guidelines applied in accordance with the Spanish government guidelines aimed to limit the spread of Covid-19.

The training consisted of a theoretical class on efficient driving techniques of trucks transformed to run on Natural Gas under the framework of the RePort project, as well as practical workshops in said trucks and with drivers who have attended previous theoretical parts of the training but had yet to complete the practical aspects.

In total, throughout the lifetime of the project, 26 trucks have been adapted to carry natural gas, and their respective drivers have received the corresponding training to operate them safely and efficiently.

The RePort project begun in January 2016. It aims to reduce the air pollutant and acoustic emissions at the Port of Barcelona, with the overall goal of improving the air quality of the city. The project, co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund, is nearing its end.

RePort - Mobilitat Eco

The overall goal of the RePort has been to develop an innovative technology to convert Diesel engines into Dual-Fuel ones, making it possible for them to run on gas, therewith making them more sustainable and less polluting. The partners have been contributing to the consolidation of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) and Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) as a real, efficient and sustainable alternative to traditional fossil fuels. This helped contribute to the development of a logistics hub within the port area where trucks run on these alternative fuels. This has been in line with the Port of Barcelona’s Sustainable Development Plan, which has set guidelines for a new and more sustainable industrial transportation sector to emerge in the Catalan capital.

The partners involved in RePort are:

The RePort project will finalise in July 2020.

The Ship Agent

When we think about the arrival of a vessel to the port, the first thing we think about is the loading or discharging of the cargo. Even though this is not entirely incorrect, many ships have more specific requirements and needs upon arrival. This is where the role of the ship agent comes in, and this is what we chose to focus on in this post for our #DidYouKnow series.

Changes made to the Escola’s Steering and Academic Committees

Distance learning, digitalisation and courses that provide answers to the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic will mark the evolution of the Escola Europea in the near future.

During the Steering Committee of the Escola Europea, held on the 22nd of April 2020, Catalina Grimalt for the Port of Barcelona and Mario Massaroti for the Grimaldi Group were added to the members of the Executive Committee. This was in accordance with the agreement adopted by the Governing Council presided over by the President of the Port of Barcelona, Mercè Conesa, and which also had the President of the Ports of Genoa, Paolo Emilio Signorini; the President of Ports of Rome, Antonio Maria di Majo; the CEO of GNV, Matteo Catani, and the members of the Executive Committee Eduard Rodés, Silvio Ferrando, Antonio Pedevila, Mario Massarotti, Catalina Grimalt, Pedro Arellano and Luca Lupi participated.

The Steering Committe also approved changes to the Academic Committee. Marta Miquel, representing the Escola Europea, and taking on the role of the secretary of the Committee; Lluis París for the Port of Barcelona; Leonardo Picozzi, representing the Ports of Genoa; Giovanni Marinucci for the Ports of Rome; and Agustí Martí for the Faculty of Nautics of Barcelona-UPC, were incorporated to the list of members.

As a result of the current global health crisis, new initiatives of the Escola Europea linked to the teaching of courses that combine an online part for theory and a physical part for practical workshops, as well as the development of new courses related to the safety and protection regulations that are going to be implemented as a consequence of COVID-19, have been approved.

The Committee was informed of the recent approval of two projects in the field of training and employment under the European Commission’s ENI-CBCMED programme. The YEP-MED project led by the Escola Europea with a budget of EUR 3 million and involving 7 countries from the Mediterranean basin; and the TECHLOG project led by the University of Cagliari with a budget of EUR 3,5 million. Both projects have a duration period of 30 months.

Some current issues were also discussed, such as the important work of the shipping companies in the repatriation of persons who were travelling at the time the state of emergency and lockdown were announced. President Conesa emphasized the importance of the collaboration of Grimaldi Lines and GNV, which has helped manage extremely complex situations.

The Council agreed to hold an emergency meeting at the end of June to better monitor developments in the overall situation.

YEP-MED project: a tool for improving employability in the port-logistics sector

In 2020, ten partners from seven countries bordering the Mediterranean have joined with a common objective to train young people with skills adjusted to the current market in logistics-port communities operating in the new Blue Economy. The partners will focus on the regions involved in the project, with the aim of promoting social inclusion and fight against poverty.

These actions will be carried out within the framework of a new European project titled YEP-MED (Young Employment in Ports of the Mediterranean) co-financed by the European Neighbouring Instrument – Cross-Border Cooperation in the Mediterranean (ENI CBCMED) programme. The project, which will count on the amount of 3,000,000 euros of funds for its development, will work towards a better preparation of skills required by the port-logistics labour market – a sector with a high growth potential – through vocational training.

The project, led by the Escola Europea – Intermodal Transport, aims to develop port-logistics training and vocational (TVET) resources adapted to sector needs to strengthen youth employability; increase and upgrade local employment opportunities through the creation of real dual-learning programmes with job placements, strengthening the role of SME’s operating in the port ecosystems for future employment creation; and setting up collaborative national and transnational partnerships between port-logistics associations, operators, SMEs, training centres and VET providers, whilst introducing a PPP co-management process.

The project counts on the participation of partners from Spain, Italy, France, Tunisia, Lebanon, Egypt and Jordan, including public administrations such as Port de Barcelona (Spain), Autorità Portuale Mar Tirreno Centro Settentrionale (Italy), Port de Marseille-Fos (France), Damieta Port Authority (Egypt), Office de la Marine Marchande et des Ports (Tunisia), Aqaba Development Corporation (Jordan) and Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture of Beirut (Lebanon), as well as training centres in each of the countries such as the Escola Europea – Intermodal Transport and Fundación Valenciaport (Spain),  Arab Academy (Egypt) and Institut Méditerranéen de Formation aux Métiers Maritimes (Tunisia). As associated entities, MEDPorts Association and Consell Valencià de la Joventut will also join the project.

Throughout 30 months, the partners and associates of the project will implement tools to achieve the main objectives of this initiatives, in the short, medium and long terms.

For more information on the project or on the Escola Europea, you can write an email to:

The first annual meeting of the Academic Committee of Formati al Porto takes place virtually

On the 17th of April, the constitutive meeting of the Academic Committee for Formati al Porto took place, convened by the President of the project Prof. Andrea Campagna and the Director of Escola Europea – Intermodal Transport Eduard Rodés. The meeting was held virtually by videoconference.

Formati al Porto, strongly supported by the Northern Tyrrhenian Sea Central Authority (AdSP del Mar Tirreno Centro Settentrionale) and the Escola Europea – Intermodal Transport – aims to make it easier for today’s students, and thus future professionals, to gain access to the knowledge of the professions in the logistics sector, with a particular focus on the maritime industry and intermodal transport.

The participants who joined the meeting from the safety of their homes were: Dr. Luca Lupi and Dr. Giovanni Marinucci representing the AdSP of the Northern Tyrrhenian Sea Centre, the Councillor for Education Policy Claudia Pescatori for the City of Civitavecchia, Prof. Mauro Adamo for ITC “G. Baccelli“, Dr. Antonio Errigo for ALIS, Dr. Francesco Beltrano for Confitarma, Dr. Brandimarte for Assarmatori, Dr. Stefano Cenci for Unindustria and the project coordinator Marco Muci from the Escola Europea – Intermodal Transport.

For the first time in the Escola’s history videoconferencing has succeeded in bringing together such a high number of entities from the Italian maritime cluster and the intermodal logistics sector. Among the topics covered were the presentation of the project itself and the results achieved so far, the proposal of new contents and the quality of the courses for 2021, the acquisition of new partners, and the possibilities of enriching the current training offer, through the inclusion of online courses.

The Academic Committee is committed to supporting the project, relying mainly on the human factor, i.e. the young students, and on the local territories themselves. The main objective is to create a well-prepared logistic community, able to face future challenges and to strategically place Civitavecchia at the forefront of the Mediterranean logistic activity.

The role of “Formati al Porto” is to bring students into direct contact with the community and port activities, to learn the characteristics of the professions related to the world of ports through direct exposure to the surroundings. In addition, the project aims to lessen the disconnect between between the qualifications required by companies and the skills offered by the educational system, thus promoting the creation of quality employment through the possibility of the school-work placements.

The training, as is the case with the Escola’s courses, is carried out by experts and professionals from the Italian and Spanish sectors, ensuring participants get high quality educational contents. The teaching team is composed of representatives of companies and institutions directly involved in the management of short sea shipping and sustainable logistics in Italy,

For more information, you can visit the project’s web page:

Railway Lines

The essential railway infrastructure and equipment – Spotlight on Spain

The European railway system transports around 1.6 billion tonnes of freight each year. The railway is central to the EU’s strategy for a more sustainable transport sector, helping ensure economic and social cohesion and connecting Europeans within and between Member States.

The density of the national rail networks reflects the different geographical characteristics of the countries, with the Nordic and Baltic countries having the lowest rail network density on the continent.

Rail has the potential to play an important role in accelerating the reduction of transport emissions. “Rail only represented 2% of total transport energy consumption in the EU, while representing for 11.2% of freight and 6.6% of passengers in all modes of transport in 2016” (data from the Report from the Commission to the European Parliament and the European Council, 2019). However, rail freight also has a number of other advantages: improved safety of goods compared to other means, lower accident rates, more storage capacity as a large volume of cargo can be transported over very long distances, and the potential for intermodality, if necessary.

Maintaining and renewing the existing network to improve safety and operational performance as well as ensuring a reliable service is a major challenge for infrastructure managers, especially in the face of increased traffic and demanding performance targets set by national authorities and operators.

This results in a number of disadvantages that caused this means to not be one of the most used for the transport of goods. It is conditional on the existence of infrastructures that are non-existent in some European countries. In addition, this means that, unlike other means, there are very few occasions when it can reach the warehouse or the final destination of the goods without the help of complementary means (such as the road).

Mandatory Intermodality

Rail transport falls under the intermodality umbrella, as it requires road transport to chauffer the goods from the point of origin to the railways, and to their final destinations. Rail gauge: The width of the gauge can differ from one country to another, which can cause difficulties in the transhipment of goods, and thus result in a significant increase in the expense of money and time.

The EU’s railways continue to grow. Rail markets are gradually opening up and safety levels remain high. This sector is increasingly demanding in terms of performance, innovation and responsiveness to customer needs. Rail transport’s fight to increase its modal share remains centered around interoperability and cross-border coordination issues. Corridors are a key part of the Commission’s policy to boost rail freight. The Rail Freight Regulation and the train drivers Directive are still being evaluated in order to boost and facilitate rail transport.


Locomotive of RENFE - the Spanish railway operator

In Spain, the railway represents around 4% of the total freight transport market. This market share has decreased in recent years in favour of road transport. Although part of this trend is common to other countries, the rail market share in Spain is much smaller. For example, rail represents 19% of the total goods market in Germany and 15% in France –  nearly four times the Spanish equivalent.

If the sector can convince transporters to opt for rail motorways to reduce costs, and get exporters and importers to bring their goods to the ports through the use of the rail, it is likely to grow in the coming years.

To improve international rail freight traffic, France and Spain have re-launched two rail motorways between the two countries, through a call for expressions of interest. This marks the first step in finding out whether or not the infrastructure is viable in the region.

Intrigued? The Escola organises courses focusing in particular on maritime rail and maritime-road intermodal solutions, called SURCO. Contact us if you’d like to know more and to find out when the next courses will take place.

Written by:

  • Raquel Nunes – Co-founder of Youngship Portugal