Fruits and vegetables from the south come to Paris

France is getting another intermodal railway line. VIIA is launching a service between Le Boulou in the south of France and Genevillier, north of Paris. It is the first time the company links to the capital area, but it is having high hopes of the intermodal service.

“Paris is not an easy market. It is a consumer market, which means you do a lot of import and less export. But we are not in Paris, just a little north of the capital. And we are also serving the Normandy area thanks to feeder services. Thus, this is really a service for the national market as well”, explained Daniel Lebreton from VIIA in RailFreight Live last Friday.

New VIIA service Le Boulou – Gennevillier

Non-cranables and reefers

The intermodal service is available for all types of trailers, including non-cranables, as the operator applies the Lohr loading technology to lift these trailers on the train. Lohr applies a horizontal loading technique, where the trailers are taken off the truck at the terminal via special platforms, and loaded on the train in the same way.

“The service is also available for reefer containers”, Lebreton emphasised in the broadcast. “We are right at the start of the frigo season, which means a lot of fruits and vegetables
will be loaded on the train. On our daily service from Spain to Calais for example, we see that around 35-40 per cent of the load is in reefer containers.”

Intermodal is the answer

The new service between Le Boulou en Gennevillier will start with three round trips per week, and can be expanded according to the demand. “This is our answer to the shortage of truck drivers, rising fuel prices and ambition to decrease CO2 emissions”, says the company.

Intermodal transport is the key focus of VIIA, and the loading of non-cranable units one of its core business. It has been using the Lohr technology since 2003. “We adapt the rail to the road, not the other way around”, said Lebreton. “There are a lot of trailers on the road, and these can easily be shifted to rail if we have the right facilities.”

Not enough

On a more critical note, Lebreton pointed out that ‘the right facilities’ may not be there at the moment, as there is an “obvious shift from road to rail, and a lack of capacity on the rail side”.

Where we had to convince shippers on the road about rail, they are now coming to us. If this trend continues, we do not have enough capacity to handle these rising volumes. We need to adapt more terminals, and provide more intermodal services. And we need to do that now, if we want to be ready in two or three years’ time.”

Watch the show

Do you want to watch this interview? You can watch the broadcast of RailFreight Live below.

Author: Majorie van Leijen

Majorie van Leijen is editor of RailFreight.com, online magazine for rail freight professionals.

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