Who Will Take the Infrastructure Lead in Central Europe?
These investments are of vital importance to ensure the port continues to be competitive with the rapidly modernising neighbouring ports in Trieste and Rijeka.
Koper is not only the most important Slovenian port - it is also the most important port for Vienna, Budapest and Bratislava and potentially, it could be the maritime Silk Road from Asia/China to Europe. However, to ensure the future of the Port of Koper, maintain its status as a leading northern Adriatic port and a driving force of Slovenian economic development and growth in the Adriatic, Mediterranean, European and global port businesses environments, efficient and contemporary transport links between Koper and the Central and Eastern European markets is critical.
Both Trieste and Rijeka are monitoring the actions of Slovenia. The neighboring countries are rapidly investing in their railway infrastructure: the Croatians wish to build a railway connecting Rijeka to Budapest and the Austrians are building a modern railway from Graz to Klagenfurt which will extend all the way to Trieste. This could lead to a loss of transit for the Slovenian railways and the exclusion of Slovenia from the core European railway corridors.
Slovenia/Koper - The port and logistics hub of Central Europe
The Port of Koper, situated in the very heart of Europe, has the most strategic position of all the North-Adriatic and Mediterranean ports. It has the advantage of offering the shortest route to the hinterland markets due to its location in the centre of European transport corridors V. (Barcelona-Kiev), X. (Salzburg-Thessaloniki-Istanbul) and the Baltic-Adriatic corridor. Without a modern railway link, it could lose its strategic position. By means of regional internationalisation, Slovenia is seeking the support of its neighbours in the building of a second track from Divača to Koper However, the building of the second track infrastructure will be difficult without plans to expand and modernise the port into a Central European hub which would, in accordance with global trends, operate an increasing number of production activities within the port itself.
It may be that Slovenia is already too late to take the central role which means that the competitive development of the Port of Koper is in danger. Ideas for building a multimodal land-based logistics hub in Hungary could help the Port of Koper become an actual Central-European hub port. Similar ideas can also be traced in Austria where they're rapidly investing in their railways. Development of logistics infrastructure would also mean more foreign investment and the creation of new jobs which Slovenia desperately needs to combat its high unemployment rate.
The second track from Divača to Koper - a necessary link to CEE markets
Modern railway links between Koper and the key markets of Central Europe are a must. For decades, Slovenia has been aware of the development problems and dilemmas connected to the railway infrastructure of the Port of Koper. In addition to professional disagreements, the hesitation to build the necessary railway links has been plagued by political disagreements regarding the rationale and variants of the project. To successfully complete this national project of strategic importance, political agreement by all parties will have to be sidelined. The plans of the neighboring countries to modernise the Adriatic ports and build modern railway links to the hinterland markets and the plans of the Chinese to expand into the Central Europe from the Port of Piraeus in Greece, mean that Slovenia has very little time to decide, prepare a plan and seek investors for the implementation of a key project that will ensure the future development and competitiveness of the Port of Koper and Slovenia.
The port must upgrade its maritime window into the world with a land-based counterpart. Since the competition is strong, it must do so as quickly as possible!