The Port of Barcelona is the main transport and services infrastructure in Catalonia, the second Spanish port in terms of total goods traffic and the first in terms of value. The 112 shipping lines operated by 162 ship owners which regularly link Barcelona with 850 ports of the five continents, set it a head and shoulders above other Spanish ports for international traffic (Port de Barcelona, July 2010).
The Port has nearly forty specialized and multipurpose terminals for attending to the different types of traffic generated in its hinterland - the market which it serves. In addition, the commercial port has a logistics port, the Logistics Activities Area, or ZAL, and an urban port, the Port Vell, which is open to the public.
The Port statistical data reports a total traffic in 2010 of ca. 43 million tones, with 1.9 million containers, 8.180 vessels, 550.874 new vehicles (it is the top Mediterranean port for car traffic) and 3.4 million passengers, of which 2.3 travelled on cruise ships (Barcelona is the top European cruiser port). Regarding solid bulk, 3.5 million tones were transported in 2010, most of them requiring special installations (e.g, soyabean which represented 1.6 million tones). The Port is growing fast in the area of short sea shipping (SSS), which offers a combined service for the transport of passengers and vehicles, aimed especially at trucks. A total of 403.548 passengers and 85 586 trucks used the short sea shipping services in 2009. Moreover, SSS transported 101.469 UTI (tracks or transport units). The Port Authorities show a growing commitment to SSS as sustainable transport model, providing improvements in logistics operations, more competitive than road transport, and lowering environmental impact by road transport. The Port has also helped to push forward the creation of the European School of Short Sea Shipping, the first Europe-wide institution dedicated to providing specific training in short sea shipping. Based in Barcelona, the School is a unique training model, with the courses provided on board ships sailing the regular lines between the Port of Barcelona and the ports of Genoa and Civitavecchia (Rome).
The Barcelona Port is being enlarged and its surface will result doubled, reaching 1.300 ha. The enlarged Port will be able to handle annual traffic of 130 million tonnes and 10 million containers from which 63% will require further terrestrial transport. The Port will need road and rail accesses with sufficient capacity to allow this huge amount of goods to leave the Port smoothly and speedily. The Port of Barcelona has opted for the railway to connect to its potential markets in the centre and north of Europe in competitive conditions in terms of costs and time, using criteria of sustainability and mobility. The Port of Barcelona's Rail and Road Accessibility Plan involves building infrastructures with the capacity to operate 180 trains a day, equivalent to 150 000 tonnes/day or 30 million tonnes/year. To channel this large amount of traffic, the Port will have rail terminals in each of the new terminals, in addition to the existing rail terminals, and a large loading and unloading station will be built in the old bed of the river Llobregat.
The enlargement and the improvement of the accesses are the foundation for the Port to be able to handle new traffic. The Port is working to attract the growing maritime traffic between Europe and Asia, especially with China. Currently only 24% of the goods flowing between Europe and Asia and passing through the Suez Canal are loaded and unloaded in the ports of Southern Europe. The Port of Barcelona, which already handles 35% of all traffic between Spain and Asia, rising to 38% in the case of China, aims to attract a large part of this potential traffic The enlargement, the increased traffic with Asia, a greater presence in European and Mediterranean markets, the creation of new road and rail accesses and the improved dynamism and efficiency of port processes are all factors that will help the Port of Barcelona to achieve its strategic aim: to become the gateway to southern Europe and the main Euro-Mediterranean logistics hub.
Barcelona Port Authority, "The Gateway to Southern Europe" Press Dossier July 2010
Barcelona Port Authority, Statistical Services, "Barcelona Port Traffic Statistics "December 2010