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The sprint of motorways of the sea

Martime Corridors Trasporting Trucks Ano Passengers Are Novv A Reality That Makes It Possible  To Remove Heavy Vehicles From The Roads And Reduce CO2 Emissions.

The Pérez's are a couple from Madrid- he's a dentist, she's a teacher,  with two children - who have decIded to spend their summer holidays taking a road trip all over ltaly. They don't know it yet, but their destinies will inevitably cross with that of Manuel Gómez, a 43 - year-old truck driver and (separated) father of two,  who hauls construction material,  especially tiles, in his giant semi from Spain's Levante region to ltaly and other countries in Europe.

There's a very good chance that the encounter between the Pérez family and Manuel Gómez will be a tragic one, and that it will occur in the form of a terrible traffic accident.

After all, there are six anda half miIlion trucks like Manuel's circulating on European roads,  each of them  weighing  over 3.5 tons. And statistics show that each year, around 4,000 people die and around 123,000 are injured in traffic accidents in the EU.
But this story has a happy ending.  The Pérez's and Manuel  Gómez end up meeting at the side of the pool on one of the ferries that run between ltaly and Spain along one of the so-called "motorways of the sea",  while shipping on a cocktail.

This was justa dream untilnot  long ago. But since 2001, when the European Commission decided to promote maritime routes between different ports in order to decrease the environmental impact of road traffic, prevent highway congestion and offer an efficient  means of transportation, motorways of the sea have become  a reality. There are already numerous maritime corridors that connect Spain with other countries in the European Union, used  by a number of ferries carrying trucks loaded with merchandise and passengers with their cars. Maritime transportation is on the rise: it is estimated that on the Mediterranean and its 2.5 miIlion square kilometers of waters alone, 2,500 ships travel each day.
he advantages of these motorways of the sea are obvious: various studies show that mantime transportation pollutes 13 times less than road transportation in terms of carbon dioxide emissions, and 19 less in terms of hydrocarbons.  lt also frees up highways by removing thousands of trucks from the roads each year (statistics show that road transportation will reach a point of saturation in 2020). Andas if that weren't enough, it's also more efficient, saving time and fuel. ln the EU almost 90% of the energy needs of the transportation  sector depends on oil and its derivatives,  so reducing fuel consumption of road transport is very positive from both an economic and environmental standpoint.
We still call them ferries.  But in fact, most of the ships that cross the motorways of the sea, connecting  different  ports, are real mini cruise liners equipped with all kinds of luxuries: swimming pools, Jacuzzis, beauty and massage centres, restaurants, shops, comfortable  cabins and more. The Pérez family  has chosen to board one of the boats  the Grimaldi company  operates  between Barcelona to Civitavecchia (the port of Rome) because it allows them to take their own car instead of having to rent one in ltaly. That way they also avoid the long, tedious trip from Madrid to Rome (with its respective tolls), while  enjoying  the  pleasure of crossing the sea on a kind ofcruise liner. "lt's part ofthe holiday," they say in unison.
As for Manuel, he's decided to opt to take the motorway of the sea ins­ tead of the traditional asphalt freeway because it saves him time and money (he spends less on gas) while improving his quality of life. lnstead of spending nine or 10 hours a day behind  the wheel of his truck, his eyes glued to the road, now part of the trip has become a real vacation. "1 get there, get my truck on the boat, enjoy myself then get off and keep on driving," he says.
Source: Europe Magazine / Inma Garrido / July 2013


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Luis Galan