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Hupac reaches major milestone: P400 semitrailer on French network

Photo: Hupac

Hupac Intermodal has opened up the market for P400 semitrailer transportation between Spain/southern France and northern Europe. As of February, P400 semitrailers can run between Antwerp and Barcelona. And as of March, P400 semitrailers can run from Perpignan to Cologne and further to Scandinavia. This is considered a major milestone for the industry.

Until now, the railway network of France did not allow for P400 semitrailers to be transported on its lines. This was a major hurdle, as in most developed rail freight countries in Europe there are no restrictions for this type of unit. The possibility is now there, literally opening up the intermodal market to and from Spain.

Another milestone

“Another milestone for intermodal transport has been achieved after a successful test period together with the Spanish Railways RENFE and the French SNCF”, says Hupac. Another refers to the fact that only last year, the transport of the P386 semitrailer on the French railway network was made possible. As of February 2019, the Hupac shuttle train was able to carry semitrailers between Antwerp and Barcelona.

The intermodal operator therefore celebrates two milestones this year. “The P400 on the route from Antwerp to Barcelona is a great development, but we can also offer this transportation on the route from Perpignan to Cologne and further to Scandinavia from next month”, comments Irmtraut Tonndorf, Communications and Marketing Director at Hupac. The service will be operated by ECR/DB.

The service

The Perpignan-Cologne train will run five roundtrips per week. According to Hupac, this new service provides “non-stop gateway connections from Cataluña in Spain and the Pyrenean region in France to Malmö in Sweden and further Scandinavian destinations”. The shuttle Antwerp-Barcelona offers daily departures. The train runs on the UIC line up to Barcelona Morrot without the need to change railcars for the Spanish network.

“We are eager to develop this new market”, says Tonndorf. Transport operators who are new to intermodal transport will need to invest in craneable equipment, and organisation for the first and last mile needs to be set up. “But now this ecofriendly and performing transport solution is available for south France and Spain as well – an opportunity for future development.”

More capacity

The opening up of his market means a great deal for the intermodal market, she believes. The P400 semitrailer has 3 metres of internal height, good for three levels of pallets. This means more capacity in a single trailer, which cannot be missed in the intermodal market nowadays.

“The railway network existed before semitrailers came to the market, so it was initially not designed for this type of unit. In France the situation was quite complicated. They have a different type of line codification and different measuring parametres. When the lines were finally opened for P400 semitrailers, the strikes hit the railway industry and so the new service from Perpignan was a little postponed”, she adds. But both the shuttle from Barcelona and Perpignan are now scheduled for start-up.

Cologne-Perpignan route

Author: Majorie van Leijen

Majorie van Leijen is the editor-in-chief of, the online magazine for rail freight professionals.

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