The choice of horizontal handling transport in automated container terminals is not fully consistent in comparison with the automation of stacking cranes at the storage yard. Often the decision of automated system that connects the berth with the yard area is not clear and terminal operators tend to use not automated systems (straddle-carrier systems). The goal of this paper is providing an economical analysis to figure out under which conditions an automated horizontal transport is more efficient than a straddle-carrier. The study provided several simulation models to calculate the optimal equipment necessary to connect storage and berth subsystems in a maritime container terminal in fully automated and semi-automated scenarios. For that purpose, the data from the semi automated container terminal at Port of Barcelona has been used. After a cost analysis, some guidelines on what might be the best alternative considering labor costs, throughput movements per quay crane and year and different quay cranes productivities are provided.