SNCF Logistics-owned VIIA has launched a rail freight route for unaccompanied semi-trailers between Calais and Turin, which connects with ferry services between the French Channel port and the UK.
The new 'rail motorway' is operating three weekly round trips initially, increasing to two round trips daily when fully operational, leading to the transfer of 31,000 lorries from road to rail.
Traction is provided jointly by Fret SNCF and its Italian counterpart, Mercitalia, whose trains will cover the 1,150 kilometres between Calais and the Orbassano terminal, in the suburbs of Turin, in 18 hours.
“This new rail motorway line between Calais and Turin Orbassano is an addition to our existing Spain service. It results from work conducted by teams at VIIA as well as the Port of Calais and Fret SNCF. It is excellent news for the development of unaccompanied semi-trailer transport in Europe”, commented VIIA's chairman, Thierry Le Guilloux.
“The service, open to all types of trailers, could save some 1.2 tonnes of CO2 per trailer per trip, for a total saving of 37,200 tonnes of CO2 full year”, he added.
VIIA's Britannica line currently connects Calais to Le Boulou, near Perpignan, on the French-Spanish border, with twice-daily round trips.
Present at the inauguration ceremony of the new service in Calais, the chairman of SNCF’s executive board, Guillaume Pepy, noted that:
“VIIA’s rail motorways are an extremely effective tool for shifting (freight) from road to rail and combatting greenhouse gas emissions. All semi-trailers can be carried without any investment on the part of road freight companies, and with competitive journey times.”
In 2017, VIIA carried 106,747 units (semi-trailers, swap bodies and containers) on its services which also include the 175-kilometres-long Transalpine line between Aiton, near Lyon and Turin Orbassano which operates four round trips a day, connecting France and Italy in three hours and the Bettembourg (Luxembourg) Le Boulou Perpignan line which makes three round trips daily covering a distance of more than 1,000 kilometres in 15 hours.
For his part, the chairman and CEO of Port Boulogne Calais, Jean-Marc Puissesseau, said the launch of the new Calais-Turin line “confirms our vision of developing unaccompanied trailer traffic in the years to come, and our desire to support this development.
“With the opening of this new service offered by our partner VIIA, the Port of Calais is becoming the main hub for sea/road/rail interconnections between the north and the south of Europe, and can deliver intermodal solutions to our freight customers within the port itself”.
Also present at the inauguration ceremony, was French Transport minister, Elisabeth Borne, who said rail motorways were an excellent way to shift to more eco-friendly freight transport.
She added that the new service was “a striking symbol of the government’s strong commitment to promoting rail freight”.
Source: Lloyd’s Loading List