A gateway to Central Europe

The role of the port of Koper continues to grow. According to a recently published international study Koper offers the fastest container transit between Shanghai and Munich. Slovenia plans to strengthen Koper’s importance by building a new railway connection. At the same time government continues to privatize state owned logistical companies.

This is an important period for Slovenia as a logistics hub. In the last two years a number of companies were successfully privatized. It was a record year for fast growth in the port of Koper. And in 2016 the cargo passing through Slovenia's only port continues to grow. This growth could be sustained in the years to come as the government has issued a building permit for a new line between the Koper and Divača railway junctions.

In march London based consulting and research company Drewry, specialized in global maritime transport, published a best route study for containerized imports from China to South Germany. The winner was the Slovenian port of Koper offering the fastest transit time between Shanghai and Munich at a cost comparable to the leading western European ports like Hamburg, Rotterdam and Antwerp.

Koper is a key hub for Central Europe, in particular Hungary, Austria, Czech Republic and Slovakia. Its importance is steadily growing – and so is the cargo passing through the port. Over 20 million tons of cargo went through Koper last year. The fastest growing area of Koper is car traffic. In 2015 Luka Koper handled over 607,000 vehicles, 17 percent more than in 2014. The report published by Finished Vehicle Logistics Magazine in late March put Koper on third place among the largest car ports in the Mediterranean after Spain's Barcelona and Valencia. The first quarter of 2016 brought new record figures for Luka Koper.

The main bottleneck preventing even faster growth of perhaps the best positioned Mediterranean port is its slow railway connection. With the much awaited new track between Koper and Divača the capacity of the railway connection will be significantly improved with reduced transport times and improved safety. The government issued the building permit for the new track in early Spring as well as taking some steps to accelerate the project. It founded a special company to manage the investment and obtain funding from EU and private investors. The government is going to put 200 million Euros into the company by the end of 2017. The total value of the project is estimated at 1.4 billion euros.

As a public private partnership this new company represents a new attitude for Slovenia’s government, which has historically been somewhat wary of letting private capital own country’s logistic infrastructure. This change was already apparent as the government sold both its airline company and its airport operator. The airport operator Aerodrom Ljubljana was sold to German Fraport in 2014. In early 2016 Slovenia sold 91.58 percent of the national air carrier Adria Airways to Luxembourg based company 4K Invest, one of the leading turnaround specialists in Europe. The new strategy will continue to focus on Slovenian and select southeast European markets, while maintaining a modern fleet, connections with the Star Alliance network and a hybrid service offering both service for business customers as well as cheap charter flights for tourists. 

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