Italy Communications and Transport

During the last decades the mobility of people within the national territory and across borders, as well as the traffic of goods, within the country and with foreign countries, have not stopped their expansion. Against this trend, there have been no structural changes in the network of communication routes, with the consequent accentuation of some Italian anomalies. The first anomaly concerns the relationship between road transport and rail transport. Between the mid-1970s and early 1990s, the movement of people on the Italian railway network grew by almost 25% (from 36 to over 45 billion ” passengers per kilometer ”, p / km). However, in relative terms – that is, in relation to other means of transport – the railways have not gained ground. Indeed, the the incidence of railways has decreased: at the beginning of the seventies rail passenger transport constituted just over 10% of total passenger transport, while in the first part of the nineties it had already fallen below 8%. In freight transport, the mismatch is even more pronounced. Despite the policies aimed at increasing rail freight transport, the volume of goods transported by this means remained stationary around 20 ÷ 21 billion “tons per kilometer” (t / km). This has meant that, in relative terms, the role of the railways has been diminishing: in the 1970s they transported 16% of goods on the national territory, while in the 1990s they fell well below 10%. The second anomaly concerns the Italian position with respect to the EEC area. The Italian railway network constitutes 14.5% of the EEC network. However, while just over 20% of EEC passengers are accommodated on the national network, only 10% of freight traffic is accommodated there. By way of comparison, it can be noted that on the French network, which is slightly more than double the Italian one, there is four times as much freight traffic; the ratio is slightly reduced, to about 3.5, when the comparison is made with the former Federal Germany.

According to, the growth of mobility between the country and abroad has increased to the point of putting a strain on the national airport system. In 1991, 327,000 carriers arrived at Italian airports, with a movement of approximately 44.7 million embarked and disembarked passengers, 820,000 tons of mail and over 4.3 million tons of freight. During the 1980s, air traffic – as in all of Europe – assumed higher growth rates than expected, requiring extraordinary measures to multiply trade routes in the national space during the summer. Important works were completed in that decade: the Milan Linate airport was renovated and an extensive program to upgrade the Rome airports was launched, while the new Genoa airport came into operation.

During the 1980s, the transformations imposed on seaports by the advent of the container and revolutionary technologies in the maritime transport of goods reached considerable levels. The Italy, with a delay of at least ten years compared to other developed countries, had to give life to an organizational restructuring plan of seaports, such as to subject to handling, with acceptable costs, containers in terminals equipped with automated systems and with computerized management. While some medium ports, such as La Spezia and Ravenna, quickly adapted to these needs, problematic situations arose in the two major ports, Livorno and Genoa. Since 1970 Livorno has steadily increased its container traffic, taking it in a few years – with about 500,000 pieces – to the top of the Mediterranean ranking. Genoa, on the other hand, suffered from the lack of adequate structures: an upgrading program was launched, centered on the construction of the satellite port of Voltri, which should bear fruit in the 1990s. However, both ports – Livorno and Genoa – have been plagued by political tensions between the workers’ companies and the government, the former hostile to introducing unwelcome innovations in the organization of work. These events have caused a drop in the competitiveness of the Italian port system. At the end of the decade, 255 million tonnes of goods from international traffic and 123 million tonnes of national cabotage goods passed through Italian ports.

Traffic in metropolitan areas has been an increasingly important problem. The development of subways has contributed to this. During the seventies the underground network almost doubled, reaching close to 60 km, and during the following decade it benefited from further increases, thanks to works activated in several cities, including Milan and Genoa. In the mid-1980s, traffic was estimated at over 2 billion p / km, and it has been a growing problem for cities. On the one hand, car transport has grown to such an extent that improvements in accessibility to cities have been nullified and the internal road network has been saturated. On the other hand, the exhaust of car gases has been a worrying factor of atmospheric pollution, which has reached dangerous levels in several metropolitan areas (Milan, Rome, Naples, Genoa). Cities, on the other hand, have had to face some important implications, deriving from the economic and social transformations mentioned above. Their industrial areas had to be reorganized; in the location of the settlements there was a certain tendency to move outside the traditional urban area, hence the phenomenon of deurbanization, which required interventions in the planning stage; in the historical centers of the cities, seats of precious cultural heritages, conservation and restoration interventions have had to be implemented, for which the available resources are not sufficient; the development of new types of service sector has led to the creation of new types of business districts; L’ expansion of scientific and technological research has forced the creation of new universities and technological parks; the aging of the population has required the setting up of new types of hospital and assistance structures.

Italy Transport