The largest container terminal in southern Europe is officially unveiled in Barcelona Port

The Catalan capital hosts the largest and most modern container terminal of the Mediterranean Sea, a true gate for cargo ships, linking Europe with the Middle East, Northern Africa and Asia. BEST, which stands for Barcelona Europe South Terminal, represents a €515 million investment by Hutchison Port Holdings (HPH). This week it has unveiled the first part of the project: 100 hectares to store containers, 1.5 kilometres of docking space for cargo ships, 98 cranes and a provisional international-width railway connection to compete with northern European harbours. However, the Spanish Government has not started the definitive railway connection yet, despite many promises.

CNA / Gaspar Pericay Coll

September 28, 2012 02:12 PM

Barcelona (ACN).- The largest and most modern container terminal in the Mediterranean Sea was officially unveiled on Thursday evening in Barcelona’s Port. The numbers showing this facility’s capacity to load and unload cargo ships are impressive. Even the first part of the project, unveiled today, occupies 100 hectares, which are connected by road but also by international-width railway with Central Europe. Therefore, freight trains will be able to link, non-stop, Barcelona’s Port with Central and Northern European industrial poles and consumer markets. BEST – which stands for Barcelona Europe South Terminal – will become a strategic commercial gate at European level, connecting the continent to the Middle East, Northern Africa and Asia, especially China. The Chinese company Hutchison Port Holdings (HPH) has invested €310 million in the first phase and is investing another €205 million in the second phase, which will occupy 32 additional hectares and will add 600 metres of docking space for boats. In fact, the first phase unveiled today already has 1.5 kilometres of docking space, 18 dock cranes, 80 container storage cranes and 42 shuttle carriers, which will move the containers from the cargo loading area to the storage one, and vice-versa. It will operate 2.65 million TEU containers and will double Barcelona Port’s current capacity.

The unveiling ceremony was chaired by the Spanish King Juan Carlos I. It was attended by the President of the Catalan Government, Artur Mas; the Spanish Minister for Transport, Ana Pastor; Barcelona’s Mayor, Xavier Trias; the executive Director of Hutchison Europe, Clemence Cheng; and TerCat’s General Director, Alejandro Kouruklis. The Catalan President asked the Spanish Government to build the definitive railway access to the container terminal as “if we do not have the infrastructures ready, we will be always one step behind our potential, even if we get foreign investment”. The terminal is now linked with a provisional international width railway, despite many promises from Madrid to have the definitive railway access ready this year. Works have not started yet and yesterday, in front of HPH and TerCat managers, the Spanish Government stated it will include the money in next year’s budget.

The Catalan President emphasised that BEST is a perfect example that “it is profitable to invest in Catalonia”. Mas underlined Catalonia’s export capacity and its will to become one of Europe’s logistic platforms. “Catalonia has assumed its leadership role for being competitive, in Spain and Southern Europe. We represent 25% of Spanish exports with 6% of the land and 16% of the population”, stated Mas.

Both Mas and the Mayor of Barcelona, Xavier Trias, have thanked HPH for this “strategic” investment. Trias underlined that the port is a key infrastructure for Barcelona, as it combines leisure uses, such as cruise ships, with industrial ones, such as this container terminal, which is added to other container terminals (TerCat and TCB).

Operating 2.65 million TEU containers per year

BEST is run by TerCat and owned by HPH, one of the world leaders in its sector. BEST will have the capacity to operate 2.65 million TEU containers per year. It will double the current container capacity of Barcelona’s Port, and will be able to operate more than 5 million TEU containers per year.

One of the terminal’s jewels are the Super-Post-Panamax cranes, which are among the tallest and strongest in the world. They weigh 1,700 tonnes, are 42 metre tall, and can load containers weighing 61 tonnes. They can operate in the largest container ships, which will be able to operate at BEST as the docking space is 16.5 metre deep.