Journal Articles (Peer-Reviewed)
Acciaro, Michele, Claudio Ferrari, Jasmine S. L. Lam, Rosario Macario, Athena Roumboutsos, Christa Sys, Alessio Tei and Thierry Vanelslander (2018): Are the innovation processes in seaport terminal operations successful? (published online first), Maritime Policy & Management, 45 (6): 787-802.
Abstract: The maritime and port sector is widely considered conservative concerning the ability to introduce innovation in respect to other industries. This may be due to the lack of cooperative interactions among the several players involved. It does not mean that innovation does not occur in this industry. Along with some technical innovations, managerial, organizational, and cultural innovations also take place in the sector. The literature has considered the assessment and effects of the adoption of particular innovation, but still few studies underline the innovation path in a broad sense with a specific focus on terminal operators. The present article aims at filling this gap through a field analysis grouping together case studies developed in different world regions and examining the adoption path of innovation through a mix of three different techniques (i.e. the H- and I-indexes, a Systems of Innovation Analysis, and a Qualitative Comparative Analysis). Research outcomes underline how, even if no unique recipe for success can be found, specific factors (e.g. a ranking of innovation objectives, coordination among actors, and institutions) can influence the achievement of success. The analyses allow suggesting strategic and policy advice that may help link in a better way the innovation drivers with their actual effects.
Ng, Adolf K.Y., Huiying Zhang, Mawuli Afenyo, Austin Becker, Stephen Cahoon, Shu-Ling Chen, Miguel Esteben, Claudio Ferrari, Yui-yip Lau, Paul T.W. Lee, Jason Monios, Alessio Tei, Zaili Yang and Michele Acciaro (2018): Port decision-maker perceptions on the effectiveness of climate adaptation actions, Coastal Management, 46 (3): 148-175.
Abstract: Effective adaptation to climate change impacts is rapidly becoming an important research topic. Hitherto, the perceptions and attitudes of stakeholders on climate adaptation actions are understudied, partly due to the emphasis on physical and engineering aspects during the adaptation planning process. Building on such considerations the paper explores the perceptions of port decision-makers on the effectiveness of climate adaptation actions. The findings suggest that while port decision-makers are aware of potential climate change impacts and feel that more adaptation actions should be undertaken, they are sceptical about their effectiveness and value. This is complemented by a regional analysis on the results, suggesting that more tailor-made adaptation measures suited to local circumstances should be developed. The study illustrates the complexity of climate adaptation planning and of involving port decision-makers under the current planning paradigm.
Kosmas, Vasileios and Michele Acciaro (2017): Bunker levy schemes for greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reduction in international shipping, Transportation Research Part D: Transport and Environment, 57: 195-206.
Abstract: A fuel levy is one of the market-based measures (MBMs) currently under consideration at the International Maritime Organization. MBMs have been proposed to improve the energy efficiency of the shipping sector and reduce its emissions. This paper analyses the economic and environmental implications of two types of levy on shipping bunker fuels by means of an analytical model built on the cobweb theorem. A unit-tax per ton of fuel and an ad-valorem tax, enforced as a percentage of fuel prices, are examined. In both cases, a speed and fuel-consumption reduction equivalent to an improvement in the energy efficiency of the sector would be expected as a result of the regulation enforcement. The speed reduction in the unit-tax case depends on fuel prices and the tax amount, whereas in the ad-valorem case it relies upon the enforced tax percentage. Both schemes lead to industry profit decline, the extent of which depend on the structure of the levy and market conditions. Since there is concern that the costs resulting from the policy will be passed from shipping companies to their customers along the supply chain, the paper dwells on how the costs arising from the enforcement of the levy will be actually allocated between ship-owners and operators, and cargo-owners. In a market characterised by high freight rates and with no or limited excess capacity, a higher percentage of the total tax amount is transferred from ship-owners to shippers. In case of a recession the opposite happens.
Pallis, Athanasios A., Francesco Parola and Michele Acciaro (2017): Empirical methods in the study of maritime economics, Maritime Economics & Logistics, 19 (2): 189-195.
Acciaro, Michele, Andrea Bardi, Maria Inés Cusano, Claudio Ferrari and Alessio Tei (2017): Contested port hinterlands: An empirical survey on Adriatic seaports, Case Studies on Transport Policy, 5 (2): 342-350.
Abstract: Ports compete not only on the sea-side (e.g. through terminal investments, increase in terminal efficiency, maritime service connectivity) but also on the land-side (e.g. through logistics chain, advanced IT services, door-to-door connectivity). On this issue, several studies (e.g. Meersman et al., 2009; Tongzon, 2009) recently pointed out the increasing importance of the connectivity – at both quality and quantity level – between the port and its own hinterland in order to be competitive in the modern maritime service structure. The analysis concentrates on the study of the port hinterland contestability and on the definition of the catchment area focusing on a case study (i.e. the Adriatic ports aiming at attracting the Southern German freight flows) in order to better understand which elements affect the possibility to expand the current ports’ hinterland. The empirical research is based on public statistics (e.g. Eurostat, Amadeus database) and on data directly collected from the operators currently serving Southern German firms with the main commercial ports and with the potential port actors that may be interested in an enlargement of the port catchment area in the studied region (e.g. South European ports). Apart from the trade pattern analysis – based on the general statistics – and the logistics structure analysis – based on the information collected by transport and logistics operators –, a direct survey has been conducted on a sample of manufacturing companies located in Southern Germany and Western Austria in order to understand what actions should be taken in order to promote the use of Adriatic ports and then reshape the boundaries of the catchment areas of these ports. Statistical tools and a bottom-up approach have been developed in order to evaluate the results. Main findings are then related to potential strategies that may fill in the competitive gap between Northern and Southern European ports when they compete to serve the same hinterland. The original contribution of the research is an insight on the relative importance of the infrastructure endowment, the generalized transport cost and also of some non-monetary conditions – as cultural and behavioural aspects – that have an influence in determining the effective boundaries of ports’ hinterland.
Acciaro, Michele and Alan C. McKinnon (2015): Carbon emissions from container shipping: An analysis of new empirical evidence, International Journal of Transport Economics, 42 (2): 211-228.
Abstract: In the last decade researchers have been looking at ways of reducing the carbon intensity of shipping operations that globally account for approximately 3 % of world carbon emissions. As a result of regulation and firms’ efforts to innovate, the maritime sector has introduced new technologies and practices such as slow steaming which have contributed to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the atmosphere. The impact of technological and operational developments on global GHG emissions is difficult to assess, however, without empirical evidence. So far such evidence has been only partially available and most of the data sources used in the literature have been compiled for different purposes or are based on single firm case studies. This paper reports the results of an analysis of a fuel consumption database compiled by the BSR Clean Cargo Working Group (CCWG) with the specific purpose of benchmarking and collecting emission data and comprising 2,300 container ship voyages (reporting year 2013, data for 2012). This analysis has examined the effect of technical and operational parameters on these vessels’ fuel consumption and emissions and is the first to be performed on the dataset and in general on self-reported data across multiple companies. In 2012, carriers in the CCWG accounted for approximately 65% of total world deep-sea container traffic. The paper outlines an econometric model that regresses carbon emissions from container shipping on particular trade routes against a range of independent variables, such as vessel age, size and average speed. The paper results indicate that significant differences exist among carriers both in terms of energy efficiency and carbon intensity. The analysis also suggests that while the emission profiles of some trade routes have remained relatively stable in recent years, others have witnessed an increase in emissions mainly as a result of a concentration of container flows. By improving our understanding of the determinants of carbon emissions from container shipping, this research should help shipping lines develop carbon-reduction plans and governments to devise appropriate policies to incentivise the decarbonisation of the maritime sector.
Acciaro, Michele and Gordon Wilmsmeier (2015): Energy efficiency in maritime logistics chains, Research in Transportation Business & Management, 17: 1-7.
Haralambides, Hercules E. and Michele Acciaro (2015): The new European port policy proposals: Too much ado about nothing?, Maritime Economics & Logistics, 17 (2): 127-141.
Abstract: It is widely felt that in order to strengthen the competitiveness of European ports it is needed to ensure fair competition among ports and the sector is anew facing new and old challenges related to its long-term development.These challenges, and arguably the inability of the port sector and the European Union (EU) Member States to meaningfully react to them on their own, are at the basis of the renewed attempt of the European Commission (EC) to develop a uniform and coherent policy package for ports. The article provides a critical account of recent EU policy initiatives, focusing on the most recent attempt of the EC to address some of the issues facing the port sector. The article discusses some of the controversies arising from the new EC policy approach, which, although milder in its contents than the previous attempts, recalls the content of the previous policy proposals, especially in the areas of liberalization of port services; pricing; competition; administrative simplification; financial and operational autonomy; and state aid provisions. The article concludes that the EU not only does not go far enough but, by trying to introduce compromises and conditions of considerable vagueness and ambiguity renders its policy proposals practically useless, thus allowing Member States the freedom to continue unabated as before.
Acciaro, Michele (2015): Corporate responsibility and value creation in the port sector, International Journal of Logistics Research and Applications, 18 (3): 291-311.
Abstract: The paper reviews existing literature on corporate responsibility (CR) in the port sector and proposes a conceptual framework that brings together the CR drivers in port environmental strategies. The conceptual framework is derived from the existing literature and is based on institutional theory. The literature review is supported by a discussion on CR strategies in 10 major ports around the world. The paper argues that ports tend to replicate environmental strategies across regions and learn from each other, and that a competitive focus on logistics tends to strengthen the importance of CR and in particular of environmental performance in ports. For some ports CR has become an integral part of their value creation proposition mostly as a result of competitive pressure. Furthermore, the paper advances also a correspondence between the degree of port agility and the CR profile of the port. Managerial and policy implications are also discussed.
Acciaro, Michele and Enrico Musso (2015): Measuring the Economic Impact of Decision Making in Maritime Studies, International Journal of Transport Economics, 42 (2): 147-152.
Abstract: This article serves as an introduction to this special issue that presents papers from the International Association of Maritime Economists (IAME) Annual Conference, held in Norfolk, Virginia, USA from July 15-18, 2014. The authors of this introduction stress that the analysis of economic impacts has become one of the main building blocks of economic theory, primarily by designing and revising measures used for the assessment of economic welfare. They go on to discuss this in some detail, covering a history of the contributions of maritime transport on societies; methods that can be used to investigate the economic, environmental, and social impacts of activities such as infrastructure expansion; cost-benefit analyses; the evaluation of modal shift and traffic flows; the balance of economic interests against larger environmental and societal factors; microeconomics; and the assessment of carbon emissions in shipping. They conclude that maritime and more general transportation studies offer many opportunities to conduct research that is not only economically sound and beneficial but that also may benefit society as a whole.
Acciaro, Michele (2014): Real option analysis for environmental compliance: LNG and emission control areas, Transportation Research Part D: Transport and the Environment, 28: 41-50.
Abstract: A wide array of technical and operational solutions is available to shipowners in order to comply with existing and upcoming environmental regulation within Emission Control Areas (ECAs). Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) is a promising alternative since it offers potential cost savings in addition to ensuring compliance with ECA regulation. But investment to retrofit existing vessels to be able to use LNG carries significant upfront costs, and a high degree of uncertainty remains on the differential between the prices of LNG and conventional maritime fuels, as well as on the availability of LNG and the reliability of its supply chain. New technologies such as LNG inherently carry substantial risk and an ill-chosen investment strategy may have irreversible consequences that could jeopardise the future of the shipping company. One important question is whether interested owners should invest in LNG now to comply with ECA rules in 2015 and reap the benefits of lower LNG prices, or whether it would be advisable to wait until some of the uncertainty is resolved. While traditional discounted cash flow techniques are unable to account for the value of managerial flexibility linked, for example, to the possibility of deferring an investment, real option analysis can be used to analyse such cases. The paper discusses the optimal time for investment in LNG retrofit and takes specific account of the value of an investment deferral strategy versus the advantages obtainable from the immediate exploitation of fuel price differentials. Through the use of a real option model the paper shows that there is a trade-off between low fuel prices and capital expenses for investment in LNG retrofit. The development in LNG is critically dependent on its future price as well as the reduction in capital costs and ship retrofitting costs. In this respect, policy makers can play a critical role in providing support to advance technical knowledge, maintain LNG prices at favourable levels and in avoiding ambiguity on regulation.
Acciaro, Michele (2014): A real option application to investment in low- sulphur maritime transport, International Journal of Shipping and Transport Logistics, 6 (2): 189-212.
Abstract: In the last few years, sulphur emissions to air from shipping have been of heightened interest to policymakers and the media, and more stringent regulation is on the way. Various alternatives are available in the shipping industry to comply with emission regulation and minimise impacts on shipowners' bottom-line. New regulation is adding complexity to managerial decision-making, so that advanced decision support tools can provide useful contributions to management processes. The present paper presents an analysis of the options available to shipowners taking into consideration the value of deferring the investment decision vis-à-vis the advantages obtainable from the exploitation of fuel price differentials. The model shows that there is a trade-off between low LNG prices and LNG capital expenses. While in most cases it would not be recommended to invest in LNG as early as today, the model shows that investment in LNG can make economic sense as early as 2015. This is highly dependent on the capital costs necessary for retrofitting ships with LNG engines and the difference between LNG prices and distillates prices.
Acciaro, Michele, Hilda Ghiara and Maria Inés Cusano (2014): Energy management in seaports: A new role for port authorities, Energy Policy, 71: 4-12.
Abstract: Ports are characterised by the geographical concentration of high–energy demand and supply activities, because of their proximity to power generation facilities and metropolitan regions, and their functions as central hubs in the transport of raw materials. In the last decades the need to better understand and monitor energy-related activities taking place near or within the port has become more apparent as a consequence of the growing relevance of energy trades, public environmental awareness and a bigger industry focus on energy efficiency. The uptake in the port sector of innovative technologies, such as onshore power supply, or alternative fuels, such as LNG, and the increasing development of renewable energy installations in port areas, also calls for more attention to energy matters within port management. So far, however, few port authorities have actively pursued energy management strategies. The necessity for port authorities to actively manage their energy flows stems from their efforts to plan, coordinate and facilitate the development of economic activities within the port, and as a consequence of the heavier weight that sustainability is given within the port management strategies. Through the analysis of the experiences of two European ports, Hamburg and Genoa, that have already attempted to coordinate and rationalise their energy needs, this paper will argue that for the ports of the future active energy management can offer substantial efficiency gains, can contribute to the development of new alternative revenue sources and in the end, improve the competitive position of the port.
Acciaro, Michele, Thierry Vanelslander, Christa Sys, Claudio Ferrari, Athena Roumboutsos, Genevieve Giuliano, Lam, Jasmine Siu Lee and Seraphim Kapros (2014): Environmental sustainability in seaports: a framework for successful innovation, Maritime Policy & Management, 41 (5): 480-500.
Abstract: Environmental sustainability in the port industry is of growing concern for port authorities, policy makers, port users and local communities. Innovation can provide a solution to the main environmental issues, but often meets resistance. While certain types of technological or organisational innovation can be satisfactorily analysed using closed system theories, in the case of seaports and in particular in the area of environmental sustainability, more advanced conceptual frameworks have to be considered. These frameworks need to be able to account for the multiple stakeholder nature of the port industry and of the network and vertical interactions that environmental sustainability calls for. This article investigates successful innovations improving environmental sustainability of seaports. The proposed framework builds in part on research concepts developed in the InnoSuTra EU FP7 project. From a methodological perspective, this article develops a method for quantifying the degree of success of innovation with respect to a set of specific objectives. Several case studies are used to test the framework against real innovation examples, such as onshore power supply, or alternative fuels. In this article, we argue that only those innovations that fit dynamically port actors’ demands and the port institutional environment stand a chance to succeed.
Becker, Austin H., Michele Acciaro, Regina Asariotis, Edgard Cabrera, Laurent Cretegny, Philippe Crist, Miguel Esteban, Andrew Mather, Steve Messner, Susumu Naruse, Adolf K.Y. Ng, Stefan Rahmstorf, Michael Savonis, Dong-Wook Song, Vladimir Stenek and Adonis F. Velegrakis (2013): A note on climate change adaptation for seaports: a challenge for global ports, a challenge for global society, Climatic Change, 120 (4): 683-695.
Abstract: With 80 % of world trade carried by sea, seaports provide crucial linkages in global supply-chains and are essential for the ability of all countries to access global markets. Seaports are likely to be affected directly and indirectly by climatic changes, with broader implications for international trade and development. Due to their coastal location, seaports are particularly vulnerable to extreme weather events associated with increasing sea levels and tropical storm activity, as illustrated by hurricane “Sandy”. In view of their strategic role as part of the globalized trading system, adapting ports in different parts of the world to the impacts of climate change is of considerable importance. Reflecting the views of a diverse group of stakeholders with expertise in climate science, engineering, economics, policy, and port management, this essay highlights the climate change challenge for ports and suggests a way forward through the adoption of some initial measures. These include both “soft” and “hard” adaptations that may be spearheaded by individual port entities, but will require collaboration and support from a broad range of public and private sector stakeholders and from society at large. In particular, the essay highlights a need to shift to more holistic planning, investment and operation.
Acciaro, Michele (2013): A Critical Review of Port Pricing Literature: What Role for Academic Research?, The Asian Journal of Shipping and Logistics, 29 (2): 207-228.
Abstract: Few topics in the area of port economics have attracted so much attention from the side of the academic community as port pricing. The impact of such literature has been quite tangible in terms of policy development and the adoption of cost-based charging practices by many ports. Nonetheless as the port sector changes, new areas of research emerge and the academic community needs to look beyond the traditional theories to provide research that matters. This manuscript provides a review of the existing literature on port pricing with a specific focus on the literature of the last decade. In the paper the author carried out a systematic analysis of the main maritime and port economics journals and highlighted the current literature gaps and the areas that can benefit from academic attentions. Among the most interesting ones there are charging practices aiming at reducing externalities, the development of all inclusive port charges and the application of revenue management for port infrastructure utilization.
Acciaro, Michele (2011): Service differentiation in liner shipping: advance booking and express services, International Journal of Shipping and Transport Logistics, 3 (4, SI): 365-383.
Abstract: Containerisation has transformed ocean shipping in a relatively standardised process. Possibilities to differentiate services exist nonetheless as a result of route densities, cargo and customer types, and shipment time sensitivity among other factors. Although yield management and product differentiation models have been extensively discussed in the airline sector, the topic has been the subject of relatively little investigation in liner shipping economics. This paper proposes a liner service differentiation model based on advance booking and explains in what cases two different classes of booking may be profitable. The paper structure is as follows: Section 1 introduces the topic; a review of the literature on pricing in liner shipping is presented in Section 2; this is followed by the explanation of how carriers may effectively price discriminate; Section 4 presents a simple model that accounts for advance booking and two classes of services; and Section 5 concludes.
Acciaro, Michele (2011): Pricing in sustainable global container transport, International Journal of Decision Sciences, Risk and Management, 3 (3): 293-310.
Abstract: The last decade has witnessed an increase in the consideration of environmental factors in global transportation and shipping, mostly as a consequence of regulation and media attention. Policy measures and the threat of public indictment have acted as powerful incentives for transport operators to green their global supply chains. It can be argued though the effective environmental measures are those that are embedded in the company business thinking, and not those only imposed by law. The present paper is the attempt to operationalise this idea in the context of global container transport. In particular, the paper argues that in order to integrate environmental factors in global logistics processes it is necessary to link them to the concept of value delivery through adequate pricing mechanisms. The paper also discusses how non-traditional forms of pricing are a valuable method to integrate the environmental dimension in container shipping and logistics value propositions.
Sciomachen, Anna, Michele Acciaro and Miaojia Liu (2009): Operations research methods in maritime transport and freight logistics, Maritime Economics & Logistics, 11 (1): 1-6.
Acciaro, Michele (2008): The Role of Ports in the Development of Mediterranean Islands, International Journal of Transport Economics, 35 (3): 295-324.
Abstract: This paper examines the role of ports in the economy of Sardinia by means of the employment generated by port and port-related industries. The subject is important since Sardinia and other Mediterranean islands suff er from chronic unemployment and poor economic performance. The increase of the Europe-Asia commercial fl ows, the European Union enlargement and the renewed centrality of the Mediterranean have induced optimistic expectations on the development opportunities that may be created for the island communities by the maritime and port sectors. The employment generated by the maritime and port industry is an essential, although partial, measurement of the development impact of ports. Therefore its quantifi cation is indispensable in order to correctly estimate the impacts that a more central role of the Mediterranean might have on the local island economies. In the case of Sardinia, ports generate approximately three percent of the total island employment, and over eight percent on average of the employment of the single municipalities. This result adds to the vital role that ports have to play as transportation nodes and in creating value added.
Journal Articles (Professional)
Kosmas, Vasileios and Michele Acciaro (2018): Kraftstoffabgabe als Hebel, DVZ - Deutsche Verkehrszeitung, Juli 2018.
Acciaro, Michele (2018): Jusqu'où va l'intelligence des villes portuaires smart?, La Tribune, Mai 2018.
Acciaro, Michele (2018): Dal capitalismo al digitalismo: Sarà la blockchain a salvare lo shipping?, PortNews Web Magazine, Juni 2018.
Acciaro, Michele, Trevor Heaver and Jane Lister (2018): Changing the face of shipping? How climate change is posing dramatic challenges to the maritime industry, BC Shipping News, October: 24-26.
Acciaro, Michele (2017): Greening maritime transport: what options in an increasingly climate sceptic world?, european energy innovation, Spring: 34-35.
Acciaro, Michele (2015): What will the maritime fuel of the future be?, Baltic Transport Journal, 2 (64): 24-26.
Acciaro, Michele (2010): Bundling Strategies in Global Supply Chains, Erasmus University Rotterdam, 9789058922403.
Acciaro, Michele (2013): Maritime Supply Chain Security: A Critical Review, in: Fu, Xiaowen, Chung-Lun Li, Meifeng Luo, Adolf K.Y. Ng and Tsz Leung Yip (ed.): IFSPA2013: Trade, Supply Chain Activities and Transport: Contemporary Logistics and Maritime Issues, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University: Hong Kong, 636-651.
Acciaro, Michele (2013): Corporate Responsibility in the Port Sector: The Institutional Theory Perspective, in: Fu, Xiaowen, Chung-Lun Li, Meifeng Luo, Adolf K.Y. Ng and Tsz Leung Yip (ed.): IFSPA2013: Trade, Supply Chain Activities and Transport: Contemporary Logistics and Maritime Issues, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University: Hong Kong, 522-535.
Acciaro, Michele, Peter N. Hoffmann and Magnus S. Eide (2012): The Energy Efficiency Gap in Maritime Transport, in: Martínez de Osés, Francesc X. and Marcella Castells i Sanabra (ed.): Maritime Transport V, UPC: Barcelona, 960-981.
Abstract: There is evidence that the shipping industry could achieve energy efficiency gains through the implementation of new technologies, with considerable reductions of fuel costs and emissions to air in the sector. Although the cost reducing effects of some new technologies are well established, companies appear reluctant to innovate despite the financial and societal benefits, as a result of what is referred to as the energy efficiency gap. The global emission impacts of the shipping industry, most notably of greenhouse gases, sulphur and nitrogen oxides are increasingly attracting the attention of regulators, non-governmental organisations and the media, and shipping companies are under pressure to find new ways to reduce their emission footprint. Understanding the determinants of the energy efficiency gap in shipping is then critical in improving the environmental profile of the industry. This paper presents the results of a survey among Norwegian shipping companies aimed at gaining a better understanding of the barriers to implementation of new cost saving technologies. The paper assesses the technical barriers that have traditionally been indicated as the main cause of the energy efficiency gap in shipping. The paper results indicate that next to technical factors, important barriers are constituted also by managerial practices and legal constraints.
Acciaro, Michele and Miaojia Liu (2009): Performance Measurement and Cost Control in Liner Shipping: The Supply Chain Perspective, in: Dauer, Ricard Rodriguez-Matos, Ricard Mari Sagarra and Francesc X. Martínez de Osés (ed.): Maritime Transport IV, UPC: Barcelona, 187-204.
Acciaro, Michele (2006): The Future Role of Mediterranean Ports in European Logistics Supply Chains, in: Puig, Juan Olivella, Roger Marcet i Barbé and Victor García Carcellé (ed.): Maritime Transport III, UPC and Museu Marítim: Barcelona, 1169-1181.
Acciaro, Michele (2015): The logistic integration of ports and rail networks: The experience in Northern Europe, in: SRM (ed.): Italian Maritime Economy. Terminals, logistics and its players: challenges from a pivotal Mediterranean position, Annual Report 2015, Giannini: Naples, 129-150.
Abstract: Chapter VII - The experience in Northern Europe 1. Ports and logistics integration 2. The role of the port authorities 3. The success of Northern European ports 4. The distinctive traits of rail transport in the ports of Northern Europe 5. The main experiences in Europe 6. Conclusions