A new ‘rail motorway’ service for unaccompanied road trailers between Calais and the French Pyrenees, was launched recently having been postponed in January over migrant-related security issues near the French Channel port.
The new ‘VIIA Britanica’ multimodal service, which aims to provide a direct link to the UK for exporters in the Mediterranean, carried its first unaccompanied road trailers early this morning.
And P&O Ferries announced today that it had reached agreement with the French rail operator VIIA to provide transport across the English Channel for unaccompanied freight arriving on the new train service between the Franco-Spanish border and Calais. It said the potential of the rail service between Le Boulou, on the Franco-Spanish border, and Calais is estimated to be 40,000 units per year.
VIIA Britanica will initially run one round-trip six days per week between Le Boulou and Calais, using trains that will traverse the length of France to connect the two intermodal terminals in 22 hours. The trains have the capacity to carry 40 units each and frequency is expected to increase to two round-trips per day later in the spring.
The Port of Calais last year installed a new €7 million intermodal rail terminal specifically designed to transfer freight units from the trains onto cross-Channel ferries.
Janette Bell, chief commercial officer at P&O Ferries, said:
“This initiative is a prime example of the need for seamless rail and sea solutions to ensure that goods can access the United Kingdom from all corners of the continent.
“London is the biggest city in Europe and Britain’s economy is continuing to grow. There are a significant number of exporters of fruit, vegetables and components for production lines who will benefit from this direct link between the Mediterranean and mainland Britain.”
P&O Ferries announced in January that it had carried more freight between Dover and Calais in 2015 than in any previous year in its modern history. The ferry company also operates intermodal continental hubs at Zeebrugge and Europoort and has its own logistics division, P&O Ferrymasters.
P&O Ferries is a leading pan-European ferry operator, sailing on eight major routes between Britain, France, Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland, Holland and Belgium. The company operates 20 vessels that carry more than 2.2 million freight units every year, along with 10 million passengers and 1.6 million cars.
Source: Lloyd's Loading List
VIIA is exhibiting at Multimodal on stand 1462