GTS launches Europe’s longest intermodal rail service, and it’s fast

Photo: E.483.059 GTS Rail's locomotive. Manny Mannheimer/Wikimedia Commons

GTS Rail, an Italian company focusing on intermodal transport, will launch Europe’s longest direct intermodal route. From 11 October, there will be a rail connection between the rail station Bari Lamasinata, on the Italian southeast coast, to the port of Zeebrugge, in northern Belgium. Initially, there will only be one weekly roundtrip, but two more are already scheduled to be added in December.

As GTS posted on LinkedIn, the train has been named 2SeasTrain, given that it links the Mediterranean Sea with the North Sea. The transit time is expected to be around 48 hours to cover the 2,000-kilometres-long route, and each train will be able to carry 32 units. Moreover, as GTS told RailFreight.com, this new connection will benefit the company’s customers throughout the United Kingdom, who can now use the service to easily reach the south of Italy from Zeebrugee.

Fast and growing

This is not the first service connecting Bari and Belgium. A similar service is offered by Lineas: the Belgian company has a rail connection between the Apulian city and Antwerp. However, GTS wins the long-distance race by a few kilometres and with a much faster transit time. According to GTS, 50 per cent of the cargo exchanged on this line will be food and beverages. Other industries involved will be wood and plastic materials, but the service is open to all sorts of customers.

Once the roundtrips for this service increase to three, GTS will have thirteen weekly connections in total between Italy and the port of Zeebrugge: seven are from Piacenza and three from Bologna. The company offers both door2door and terminal-to-terminal services. The route of the train will be through Switzerland, where traction operations will be taken over by Swiss company BLS. This is because GTS locomotives only function on Italian rails due to differences in track electrification.

Door2door and terminal-to-terminal

Earlier in September, GTS announced a new connection within Italian borders, from Brindisi to Bologna. Because the company owns 2,700 containers, it is able to offer a door-to-door service. The available containers are 45 or 30 feet. The door-to-door service, therefore, allows GTS to take care of the whole transportation process with dedicated transport units for specific types of goods, and trucks and chassis for punctual collections and deliveries. If customers own their transport units, they can still use the GTS terminal to terminal service, with which the company provides their rail network.

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Author: Marco Raimondi

Marco Raimondi is an editor of RailFreight.com, the online magazine for rail freight professionals.

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