Short sea shipping services at the Port of Barcelona have taken over one million trucks off the road in the last decade

SSS has consolidated itself and is forecasted to grow in the Port of Barcelona.

 Shipping short sea services (SSS) or short sea transport linking Barcelona with Italy and North Africa have transported a total of 1,059,285 UTIs (UTI –Unit of Intermodal Transport equivalent to a truck, platform or trailer) in the period from 2004 to 2014. It is due to these services in the last decade that more than one million trucks have been diverted from the road to the maritime mode, which resulted in a clearing of land routes and improved the environment by reducing the volume of CO2 emissions and pollutants. In addition, SSS also brings substantial improvements to transportation and logistics companies because it offers an alternative to several land sections, which means that companies that use these services can be more competitive both in terms of time and finances.

Barcelona currently has daily services connecting the city with several Italian destinations: Genoa, Civitavecchia (Rome), Livorno, Savona and Porto Torres (Sardinia). The port also has regular services to Morocco (Tangier) and Tunisia, as well as seasonal destinations in Algeria (Algiers and Mostaganem). The operating companies currently in Barcelona are Grimaldi Lines, Grandi Navi Veloci, Tunisian Compagnie de Navigation (COTUNAV) and Suardiaz.

Ever since 1998 when Grandi Navi Veloci put up the first line of mixed passenger and cargo traffic in the country and one of the first of its kind in the Mediterranean between Barcelona and Genoa, SSS growth has continued to grow in the port of Barcelona. That year they moved a total of 3663 UTIs whist in 2014, with nine operating lines, this figure increased to 111 080 of UTIs.

At this time there have been significant increases coinciding with the opening of new lines and destinations: Civitavecchia (2004), Livorno and Tangier (2007). This increase has contributed to regular steady growth and steady customer loyalty.

In terms of destinations, Italy currently represents nearly 98% of SSS traffic in UTIs with 108 737 vehicle units in 2014; while African destinations account for just over 2% UTIs transported with 2,343 last year.


As for the passengers, a total of 4,076,185 people have made use of these lines in the last decade and more than 4.5 million if you count from the start of the short sea shipping service 16 years ago.

The increase in this transition period was also notable, starting with 12 465 passengers during the launch of the first line to Genoa in ‘98, to the 389 527 people who use the short sea shipping in 2014.

For destinations, the difference between Italy and North Africa is still evident, though it is lower than in the case of freight transport. Thus, Italy represents 80% of passengers using the services of short sea shipping with 345 794 passengers in 2014, while North Africa counted with the other 20% with 86 520 passengers.

A consolidated traffic
As shown by the figures of recent years, SSS is consolidated and traffic forecasts show continued growth in the Port of Barcelona. As proof of this are the recent investments that have been made in this area in the Catalan port, such as the railway terminal of the Costa wharf (2.5 million investment) that allows for the shortcut vehicles, another segment of traffic that uses SSS- lines between the rail terminal and dock via a flyover; or the opening of the Grimaldi Barcelona Terminal, owned by Grimaldi Group, with an investment of 20 million euros, extending existing SSS facilities in Barcelona.

Additionally the increase in frequencies and services is also constant, as is the case of the Grimaldi line linking Barcelona with Savona, which in early 2015 doubled its frequency and inaugurated passenger service.

The Port of Barcelona will host next year’s European Short Sea Conference for the first time in Spain, the most important event in the field of short sea transport. 2016 also marks the 10th anniversary of the Escola Europea de Short Sea Shipping (2E3S), which represents an additional incentive to the great interest aroused by these conferences.

In short, the Port of Barcelona has positioned itself as a leader in the short sea shipping sector, reinforcing the role of the Euro-Mediterranean logistics hub. The commitment by the Port to SSS has placed it among the most prominent ports in this traffic in Spain and one of the most important in southern Europe, with consolidated lines of quality, efficiency and following sustainable transport model.