Thursday, October 27, 2016

Multimodal Specialists Join to Launch Rail Freight Shuttle Service

First Stage in Proposed North - South Cargo Corridor
Shipping News Feature
FRANCE – EUROPE – Ekol Logistics and VIIA have just announced the start of a new rail service based on one truck shuttle connection per week from the French Port of Sète to Noisy-le-Sec in the Paris area. The partners say this new freight rail connection for P400 trailers, at up to 4,000mm a full 14 centimeters’ higher than those on the commonly found P386 routes, is the first step in building a North-South rail transport cargo corridor, and the frequency will increase to 2 round-trips per week as of mid-December 2016.

Ekol Logistics, which already operates dozens of rail services weekly between Trieste and Cologne or Ludwigshafen in Germany, Trieste and Ostrava in the Czech Republic, introduced a fast RoRo vessel capable of holding 180 trailers serving the Izmir, Turkey to Sète, France route on a weekly basis two years ago, and the intention is to introduce a second vessel to the route as the capacity and frequency of the rail service continues to increase in 2017.

For its part rail operator VIIA, a subsidiary of SNCF Logistics, specialises in the transport of trailers throughout Europe carrying around 100,000 units on its combined multimodal rail/road services. The two collaborators say the latest service departs from Sète on Wednesday morning and arrives in Paris on Thursday at 7 am. The return trip starts on Wednesday with the train’s departure from Paris at 6 pm and arrival in Sète on Thursday at 12 am and plans are in place to extend connections between Sète to the UK, to the Benelux and Germany. Wojciech Brzuska, General Manager and Executive Board Member, Ekol Europe commented:

“Our strategy is to have more and more train connections within Europe so this new Ekol train is the next step for us. Transit time is similar to transport by truck, but of course the rail service is much more ecological. Only thanks to this new connection Sète - Paris we monthly emit 180,000 kgs CO2 less, which means ‘saving’ a forest the size of 20 football fields. Thus we make our motto 'logistics for a better world’ really alive. Right now, with the new connections all over Europe, we transport approximately 1,500 trailers and containers per week by train.”

The General Managers comments were supported by colleague Alaa Jennane, Ekol’s Business Development Manager who spoke of even more distant possibilities, saying:

"Thanks to this train we can better connect Turkey or Iran with Europe, Maghreb with the Paris region, and the solution we can offer is a really ecological one. It is worth mentioning that thanks to VIIA’s wagons, this new Ekol train is the first one from Sète that offers P400 to serve the Paris area. So we can use it to transport mega trailers and other types of equipment, for example mega swap-bodies or containers. At Ekol, we want to develop West – East rail connections from Paris to Hungary and Romania. Our plans are ambitious, but we are sure customers will feel benefits of it as well.”

Certainly experience is not in short supply as VIIA already runs Autoroute Ferroviaire Alpine (AFA) in partnership with Trenitalia since 2003, crossing the Alps using Aiton platform in France and the Orbassano platform in Italy and providing a truck – rail intermodal link between Luxembourg and the Spanish border since 2007. The company also boasts that its VIIA Britanica linking Spain with the UK is ‘the longest rail motorway in Europe’, crossing France in under 24 hours. Daniel Lebreton, Sales Director observed:

"Ekol is already using our service between Spain and Luxembourg – Lorry-Rail. We are delighted to expand our relationship with Ekol on this new and unique rail-sea link between Turkey and Paris via the Port of Sète. Discussions have been ongoing in an effort to offer various destinations in Northern Europe.”