New intermodal route in France: from Calais to Perpignan

Cargobeamer technology

Cargobeamer is launching a new intermodal route in France, between the coastal hub of Calais and Perpignan. The French lane will be offered from 14 June, starting off with two roundtrips per week. By 5 July the frequency will increase to four weekly roundtrips. The route is available for all types of semi-trailers.

Cargobeamer is currently completing a new terminal in Calais, which will run entirely on its own technical loading concept. This concept enables semi-trailers of all types to be lifted on a train. The site in northern France aims to serve as an international logistics hub, connecting intermodal transports from the British Isles with southern and eastern Europe. The new line Calais-Perpignan is the first to tap into this potential.

Show to rest of the world

“With our lane from Calais to Perpignan we are able to lay the formation for domestic French transports from the English Channel to the Mediterranean Sea and Iberian Peninsula. Additionally, we are very excited to see our first Cargobeamer terminal in regular market use in Calais”, said Nicolas Albrecht, Chief Business Development Officer and part of the three-member Cargobeamer executive board.

“Here, Cargobeamer is going to show the main advantages of its technology to the rest of the world by handling six to twelve train pairs per day in record time. Calais will serve as an important cornerstone to enable more environmentally friendly cargo transports by rail in the future”, said Nicolas Albrecht, Chief Business Development Officer and part of the three-member Cargobeamer executive board.

Network of terminals

CargoBeamer’s technology, which received EU certification in 2013, consists of railroad cars, transshipment terminals and logistics software. It automatically loads and unloads up to 900 semi-trailers of all types per day onto rail cars. In this way, a large part of the truck traffic can be shifted to rail. The system is compatible with 80 per cent of the semi-trailers currently in use.

Cargobeamer plans to build a network of terminals based on this technology. The terminals will be connected to each other, and to other destinations. Currently, it is building a terminal in Kaldenkirchen (Germany) and Domodossola (Italy), in addition to Calais in France. The terminal in Calais is expected to open in June 2021.

This week the company announced the launch of another new service. From 1 June, it will operate the connection Duisburg-Poznan. The first route of the company was between Kaldenkirchen and Domodossola and has been up and running since 2015.

EU support

Beginning this year the European Investment Bank (EIB) Group granted a loan of 12.6 million euros to Cargobeamer for the construction of the three innovative rail freight terminals. The EIB loan is part of the Future Mobility Facility. This goes back to a joint initiative of the EIB and the European Commission under the debt financing instrument of the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF).

The EU Commission considers the Cargobeamer concept to be in line with the European Green Deal and its strategy for sustainable and intelligent mobility, as it will enable a shift from road to rail. Currently, most semi-trailers are still transported by road.

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Author: Majorie van Leijen

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

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