‘French Med ports must unite on rail potential’

A united approach is needed if the full potential of hinterland rail connections from France’s Mediterranean ports is to be realised, says the CEO of Marseille FOS port, Christine Cabau Woehrel. The newly-installed 2017 chair of Medlink Ports is keen to champion rail as a sustainable alternative to road transportation.

As the promotional body for Rhone-Saone freight services, Medlink brings together the seaports of Marseille Fos & Sete; waterways authority Voies Navigables de France and Compagnie Nationale du Rhone and the river ports of Lyon, Chalon-sur-Saone, Macon, Pagny, Villefranche-sur-Saone, Vienne Sud, Avignon le Pontet and Arles.

Truck-free

Seven transporters already operate out of Marseille-Fos, serving 26 rail destinations in France and throughout Europe. The latest example is a daily rail link launched by Naviland Cargo between Marseille-Fos and Rennes in Brittany, via the Lyon terminal. Naviland Cargo now offers 12 destinations in France and Europe from Marseille-Fos.

Since its formation in 2015, a further 18 members have joined Medlink Ports, and last year traffic reached 103 million tonnes, making it the leading river port trade group in France. Speaking at her appointment ceremony, Ms Cabau Woehrel outlined her vision for enhancing the partnership by offering a ‘multimodal palette’ of logistics solutions – most notably in association with rail options.

‘Multimodal palette’

This, she said, would increase efficiency and boost the region’s national and international trading profiles.

She also proposed the formation of consultative body comprising state and regional authorities to take forward a 2016 government report on the benefits of the Med-Rhone-Saone trading axis.

Addressing some 3,000 delegates, she said Marseille Fos was working to increase its current 55 per cent share of the region’s exports. Three rail and river services a day, combined with road links, offered Lyon-based shippers a natural gateway to the 158 countries served by the port.

Natural gateway

Financial results for 2016 for the port showed that pre- and post-forwarding container activity on rail saw an eight per cent rise in rail traffic to 121,000 TEU. This was helped by the arrival of two new rail operators, Modal Quest and BD Rail Services, serving Chalon-sur-Saone and Niort in mid-west France.

Author: Simon Weedy

Simon is a journalist for RailFreight.com - a dedicated online platform for all the news about the rail freight sector

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