DFDS to launch Sète-Calais rail link to support Turkey-UK freight flows
Danish ro-ro shipping and logistics group DFDS will launch a rail freight connection between Sète and Calais later this month. With this service, it aims to offer customers transit times of seven days for freight between Turkey and the UK.
It currently has five vessels making four calls a week at the French Mediterranean port of Sète from Yalova, in the Sea of Marmara, just south of Istanbul, which will be increased to five calls later this year.
The new route expands DFDS’existing network of services between Europe and the UK and comes in response to growing demand, the group noted. It is the latest in a series of investments that DFDS is making to improve its offering; a new unaccompanied freight service from Sheerness to Calais, which can carry over 100 trailers or containers per sailing, opened in June last year.
Lars Hoffmann, Head of DFDS’s Mediterranean Business Unit, said: “By combining our ferry activities in the Mediterranean and the UK with a new rail service, we can offer by far the fastest connection between London and Istanbul”.
“We’re delighted to be adding a new rail line service to improve connections and shorten transport time between the UK and Turkey. It aligns with our business strategy to grow and expand the extensive route network that DFDS already offers, helping our customers, communities, and our own business grow”, he added.
The service will run twice a week, with two weekly departures in each direction between Calais and Séte, effective 17 May. A DFDS spokesperson told Railfreight.com that SNCF Logistics’ rail freight subsidiary, VIIA, will operate the service.
Earlier this year, VIIA announced that it had won a tender to operate a new multi-modal terminal in Sète, which is scheduled to enter service at the beginning of 2023.
It will be equipped with technology developed by French company Lohr, allowing the horizontal transfer of all types of standard semi-trailers from road to rail – a railway system which VIIA said had already proved its worth at its terminals in Le Boulou, near Perpignan, and Calais.
More new routes in the pipeline
VIIA is also planning to launch routes from Sète to Bettembourg (Luxembourg) and Paris. New intermodal facilities entered service at Sète as recently as last August within the framework of the port authority’s strategy to significantly increase the percentage of freight leaving the port on trains.