On 14th July Neptune Hellas arrived at Koper as part of the Kobalinkproject, bringing Opel and Seat cars from Barcelona. This arrival marks an important achievement in vehicle cargo operations, and commencement of a regular two way service between Koper and Barcelona. This venture between Luka Koper and the Barcelona-based Autoterminal S.A. also involves Greece’s Neptune Lines, and is co-financed by the EU through a Marco Polo grant. The funding scheme aims to shift freight from the continent’s overburdened roads to more environment-friendly transport by means of rail, sea and river. In this instance it is short sea shipping project, part of the “motorways of the sea” initiative operated by the European Union.
The idea for this link was born in 2005 when the car manufacturers Opel, Seat, Nissan and Ford were searching for a more efficient and cost-effective means of delivering their Spanish manufactures to new markets in Eastern Europe and the Balkans. The goal of this project is most ambitious: within a period of three years it envisages the transport of 200,000 units per annum between Koper and Barcelona.
The motor trade was amongst the first to be hit by the recent recession, and the massive decline in sales Europe-wide has been felt by the continent’s ports, although some have fared better than others. Indeed, in 2008 a number of ports – including Koper (up 8.8%) and Marseilles (up 29.5%) – even witnessed growth. Most car terminal operations, however, were already experiencing the crisis during the second half of last year, as the numbers in this analysis of vehicle throughput clearly reveal:   
Units handled
in 2008
Zeebrugge (Belgium)
Bremenhaven (Germany)
Emden (Germany)
Grimsby (UK)
Antwerp (Belgium)
Barcelona (Spain)
London (UK)
Koper (Slovenia)
Bristol (UK)
Piraeus (Greece)
Southampton (UK)
Tyne (UK)
Vigo (Spain)
Flushing/Vlissingen (Netherlands)
Valencia (Spain)
Hanko (Finland)
Leghorn/Livorno (Italy)
Copenhagen-Malmö (Denmark-Sweden)
Le Havre (France)
Pasajes (Spain)
Marseilles (France)
Source: Automotive Logistics –Finished Vehicle Logistics, July-September 2009
In comparison with nearly all other European ports, Luka Koper achieved enviable results in 2008. In 2007 it was in 14th place in Europe as regards the total number of vehicles transhipped, achieving 8th place in 2008. This year’s data also reveals that the Port of Koper is doing comparatively well during this period of recession.
Regardless of the severity of the economic situation, Luka Koper is finalizing some important infrastructure investments in relation to its Car Terminal operations, as well as embarking on new marketing projects. The first quarter of this year saw the completion of a 388 metre long and 8 metre wide ramp entrance to the new multi-storey parking garage. This investment will save crucial time and resources in moving vehicles between shipment and storage, thus increasing the efficiency and safety, while at the same time bringing down costs. Phase 1b of the parking garage is also almost complete, as is the covered railhead which facilitates direct storage-to-wagon transfer within the warehouse. This part of the facility providing fully enclosed storage, loading and transport will be utilised for shipments of luxury vehicles. Upon completion of phase 1b of the multi-storey parking garage, the Car Terminal will gain enclosed warehousing for almost 8,000 vehicles.