Rotterdam rail shuttle to Kehl/Strasbourg now 7 times a week

The rail shuttle between the port of Rotterdam and the agglomeration of Kehl and Strasbourg is now a daily service. It was recently increased from five to seven, reports the Dutch harbour authority.

Kehl and Strasbourg make up one agglomeration, with Strasbourg situated on the French bank and Kehl on the German bank of the Rhine. While MMR Intermodal Services operates three roundtrips between Rotterdam and Strassbourg, C3C is running the Alsace Rotterdam Express, now four times a week.

Why an extension?

The Alsace Rotterdam Express is a partnership of C3c with Danser Group, Haeger & Schmidt Logistics, and Ultra-Brag. It started in 2015 with three weekly services to Kehl in Germany. “Additional terminal capacity became available at Strasbourg-Nord, which explains this extension”, says Michel Bot, sales & marketing manager at Danser Group.

What used to be a 3-weekly shuttle to Kehl has now become a 4-weekly service to Strassbourg. “As a result, we add 90 TEU import and 90 TEU export to our volume every week. Whether it’s Kehl or Strasbourg makes no difference to our clients in this industrial border area”, says Bot.

Capacity restrictions in Rotterdam

“We serve the Alsace region in France and Baden-Württemberg in Germany, but we also provide additional transport to Switzerland by inland shipping”, says Maik Bastian, general manager of the Intermodal Division at Haeger & Schmidt Logistics. “If it was not for capacity restrictions in Rotterdam and the last-mile handling in France and Germany, we would certainly have increased the number of rail shuttles further.”

Mattijs Nollen, Managing Director at MMR Intermodal Services, has a similar view. “The volumes are increasing rapidly. Together we went from zero to seven rail services per week in just a few years. The cargo consists of all sorts of goods, from electronics to furniture and from car parts to light fittings – and the export cargo includes a lot of wine, of course.”

MMR already increased its services in November last year, when it went from two to three roundtips. With the third return trip, it added 103 TEUs to its capacity to and from the French city. “I don’t rule out a fourth shuttle, but with three the equipment is used to optimum efficiency.”, says Nollen.

New rail terminal

Some 400,000 TEU is transferred annually via the two trimodal terminals of the Port Autonome de Strasbourg and the one in Kehl. Direct rail and inland shipping services connect the terminals with the port of Rotterdam and other seaports. In due course, Strasbourg wants to double the current container volume per train and operate new rail services to Duisburg, Eastern Europe, Spain, and China. Possibilities for a new railway terminal in the southern port area are being explored.

“In 2021, rail traffic between Rotterdam and Strasbourg doubled”, says Maria Cherkasova, who is responsible for the multimodal development of the Port de Strasbourg. “The new terminal offers interesting opportunities for further growth, also where transport sustainability is concerned. Transport by rail is efficient and environmentally friendly. We and the municipality of Strasbourg give it our full support. After all, our port is a short distance from the Strasbourg city centre.”

Author: Majorie van Leijen

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

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