Turkey’s largest operator of freight ferry routes, UN Ro Ro, which was acquired by DFDS in June, is planning to launch rail services for containers from Toulon in southern France to Paris and Calais, with on-forwarding connections to the UK.
Since 2011, it has used the French Mediterranean port for semi-trailer traffic arriving from Istanbul-Pendik in Turkey but has growing ambitions as a box carrier.
Public sector-funded work costing €3.7 million began recently to renovate Toulon’s railhead and the first cargo trains are earmarked to enter service at the end of next year, with two weekly frequencies, port director Jérôme Giraud confirmed. Each train could carry between 60 and 80 TEU.
In 2017, UN Ro Ro's increased its services to Toulon to three weekly frequencies, deploying vessels with a greater loading capacity. In 2019, it is set to introduce even bigger ro-ro ships on the Pendik-Toulon route, capable of accommodating up to 500 semi-trailers, compared to 300 currently. Last year, UN Ro Ro transported 69,500 units on the route.
It has a fleet of 12 vessels, plying routes that connect Turkey with Italy, France, Greece, Germany, Austria and Luxembourg and also operates its own port terminals in Trieste and Pendik. UN Ro Ro says it transported 250,000 units on its vessels in 2017 and claims to have a 33% share of the sea and rail freight market between Turkey and Europe.
Fellow Turkish logistics group EKOL has also been building its rail and ferry links from Turkey to northern Europe via southern France, using the port of Sète, west of Montpelier, as part of its network of ro-ro services on routes to and from Turkey, with connecting chartered block train services within Europe.
Earlier this year, EKOL increased its ro-ro sailings between Izmir and Sète to two per week, while at the same time adding a new rail service from Sète to Zeebrugge, Belgium, with onward connections to the UK and Sweden. EKOL also operates rail freight services from Sète to Paris and Battembourg in Luxembourg.
Source: Lloyd’s Loading List