SNCF to acquire Takargo, Portugal’s leading private rail freight operator

Takargo Euro 4000 locomotive in Portugal. Copyright: Luis Zamora

Groupe SNCF has announced plans to acquire Takargo, Portugal’s leading private rail freight operator and a subsidiary of Portuguese construction group Mota-Engil.

“Takargo will join the Captrain network, a major player in rail transport and logistics in Europe, within Rail Logistics Europe, Groupe SNCF’s division dedicated to rail freight transport and logistics,” France’s state railways said in a statement.

Captrain has an annual turnover of 600 million euros and employs 3,000 staff. Its network of companies serves domestic markets in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Belgium, Poland and the Netherlands, as well as the main international corridors.

Internationally-oriented strategy

The acquisition of Takargo, which is still subject to regulatory approval, demonstrates the confidence of Rail Logistics Europe’s management in Portugal’s market potential, which is based in particular on the dynamism of its major ports, the statement noted.

“This is a strong message that echoes the Portuguese government’s efforts to support rail freight, particularly with the construction and modernisation of the rail network, but also the SNCF group’s ambitions in terms of ecology.”

Cross-border traffic with Spain

Takargo was created in 2006 as part of the liberalisation of the freight transport market on the European rail network, becoming the first private rail freight operator in Portugal. As part of its development strategy, the company extended its operations to cross-border traffic with Spain in 2009 with the formation of Ibercargo, a joint venture owned with Captrain España which has developed a strong position on the Spain-Portugal corridor. In 2021, Takargo had a turnover of €16 million and a workforce of over 100 employees.

No change in company’s operating model

“With Takargo, Captrain intends to further develop its network and strengthen its position in the Iberian Peninsula, capitalising on a successful 13-year partnership between the Portuguese company and Captrain España. Takargo will also enable us to support the need for low-carbon solutions on the Atlantic corridor for our customers’ conventional and combined traffic,” said Frédéric Delorme, President of Rail Logistics Europe.

The change of ownership will not lead to any change in the company’s operating model, the statement underlined. “The current Takargo team has demonstrated its ability to effectively manage the business to meet the commercial needs of industrial customers and logistics operators and will continue to do so. The company will continue to develop nationally and internationally, building on its integration into the Europe-focused Captrain.”

Captrain network

Captrain offers a full range of business activities – long-distance freight, rail-based shunting/on-site logistics and integrated logistics – to industries such as steel and metals, construction, chemicals/mineral oils, automotive, agriculture and to intermodal logistics operators. It operates a fleet of more than 400 locomotives.

“Every year, Captrain works with its customers and partners to transport more than 20 billion tonne-kilometres of goods sustainably across Europe and plays a key role in the modal shift from road to rail,” the statement added. In addition to Captrain, Rail Logistics Europe’s subsidiaries also include Fret SNCF, VIIA, Naviland Cargo and Forwardis.

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Author: Stuart Todd

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