Rail Transport across the Strait of Messina: Some Policies to Improve the Service

Massimo Di Gangi1, Orlando Marco Belcore1, Antonio Polimeni1, *
1 Dipartimento di Ingegneria, Università degli Studi di Messina, Messina, Italy

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© 2024 The Author(s). Published by Bentham Open.

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Dipartimento di Ingegneria, Università degli Studi di Messina, Messina, Italy; E-mail:



The railway system represents a more sustainable alternative to road and air transport. In some cases, barriers negatively impact travel by train, thus affecting users' choices. Some of such barriers (e.g., rivers, and maritime straits) divide urbanized areas (especially if a stable connection between the two areas is unavailable). In these cases, methods, policies, and planning procedures must be adopted to improve the service. The Strait of Messina (South Italy), considered in the paper as a case study, represents a particular barrier so long as the trains must be decomposed before embarking on a ferry, thus increasing dwelling time.


This paper moves from analyzing the current crossing condition in the Strait of Messina and offers an analysis of the most pointless activities at the maritime barrier. In it, some policies (with short or middle time horizons) aimed at reducing long embarkation and disembarkation times due to the decomposing operation of the convoys, as well as the subsequent recompositing and verification operations of the rolling stock, are proposed.


The proposed solutions are based on time schedules and direct observation. The proposals are not to be considered mutually exclusive, and they could represent a progressive improvement whose results are beneficial in reducing the crossing time. For each one, setup time and costs are considered to evaluate which is more appropriate.


The report assesses the benefits of introducing some interventions, and the solutions have been organized sequentially to reduce infrastructure costs. Consequently, some of the proposed solutions can be implemented immediately, thus improving the quality of the service without requiring high financial and time costs.


Planning a succession of actions could lead to a progressive improvement in the quality of the services offered, letting public administration focus on priorities, thus offering the opportunity to monitor and evaluate the efficiency of each measure.

Keywords: : Transportation planning, transport policy, sustainable transportation, railway node, maritime hub, policies assessment.