Novatrans transports P400s between Paris-Perpignan

Intermodal rail operator Novatrans will start a daily service connecting Perpignan in southern France, near the border with Spain, and Valenton terminal in Paris. It will accommodate the transportation of containers, swap bodies, but most importantly, P400 semi-trailers. The new service will start its Monday to Friday trips today, on 19 April.

Novatrans is already very active in the Spanish transport market, but it aims to attract more customers from the French side with the new service. “We hope to capture more customers with the new service as we offer a real alternative to road”, said the rail operator company. “We will offer a competitive service for any carrier that puts the trailer on the train in Perpignan arriving in Paris both faster and at a lower cost.”

First time P400

Consequently, the new intermodal link is not a result of customer demand, but an open investment and call to interested parties to use intermodal transportation more.

As the company pointed out, this is its first service with a P400 profile. Nevertheless, it firmly believes that it will not be the last. Among the Novatrans’ proximate expansion goals is building a strong French P400 network, providing links between other destinations. “We aim to create a real alternative to road, offering a flexible and easy access rail service for the carrier with a P400 requirement”, added Novatrans.

Still a hurdle in France

As Alessandro Valenti, Director Sales and Operations at Hupac pointed out at RailFreight Live a few weeks ago, P400 services in France are still at an infancy level due to bureaucratic issues. France has a relatively complicated bureaucratic system when it comes to utilising P400 trailer trains. “We still have much work left to do in convincing the French government to create better bureaucratic and infrastructural prescriptions”, said Valenti.

Moreover, French governments tend to support other existing markets in semi-trailer transportation. For instance, France’s non-cranable trailers sector has a significant portion of the transport market’s share. The French government does not wish to jeopardise the financial stability offered by this situation, added Valenti.

For this reason, it is interesting to keep an eye on the development of Novatrans’ service and see what chances it will get not only in terms of establishing the new link between Paris and Perpignan but also in terms of opportunities for further expansion in the future.

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Author: Nikos Papatolios

Nikos Papatolios is editor of, the online magazine for rail freight professionals.

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