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Italy's Grimaldi Group has been building short-sea shipping links between central and southern Italy and southern Spain since 1996. Starting with a single roll-on, roll-off freighter with capacity of about 60 truck trailers, the service initially focused on transporting large slabs of glass from Italy to factories around Sagunto, which produces windshields for the Spanish automotive industry.
Over the last four years, Grimaldi has added new, faster ships, and increased frequencies to a total of eight departures a week from Valencia. And since 1999, volumes have increased from about 5,000 trucks and unaccompanied trailers to more than 22,000 last year, said Paul Kyprianou, manager of external relations for Grimaldi.
The success of this short-sea shipping service can be attributed to a number of factors, Kyprianou said. At this point, the service is "novel" and there are no other serious shipping competitors. More important, short-sea shipping in …