Freight train in Switzerland. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

New rail shuttle connects Marseille Fos and Le Havre with Switzerland

A new rail shuttle linking the leading French container ports Marseille Fos and Le Havre with Switzerland is launched today, 4 September, in a joint initiative with intermodal operator Naviland Cargo.

With three round trips per week, the France Helvetia Express service will operate between Dijon Gevrey in mid-France, where rail shuttles serving each port will connect, and the Chavornay combined transport terminal near Lausanne, in Switzerland’s French-speaking region.

Capturing market share

Only a fraction of the estimated potential Swiss box traffic of 350,000 to 400,000 TEUs per year is currently handled by the French ports. Reduced transit times are expected to play a major part in capturing market share, particularly for Mediterranean-routed trades via Marseille Fos and North/South America traffic through Le Havre.

Capacity on each train will be up to 42 TEUs. Import traffic will depart both ports on Friday, Monday and Tuesday, while export consignments leave Chavornay on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.

Shift to rail

The France Helvetia shuttle will provide annual capacity equivalent to 12,000 trucks, meeting the French government policy to extend the port hinterlands into the heart of Europe with eco-friendly combined transport services. Marseille Fos already offers more than 200 container shuttle options per week throughout France and also in northern Europe, notably through ‘fresh food corridors’ with Zeebrugge, Rotterdam, Hamburg and Lubeck.

Author: Majorie van Leijen

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

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