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kenw

BF plans rail link to Spain

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Interesting announcement from JM Roué yesterday ( as reported by OuestFrance)

Multimodal rail link from Bayonne – about an hour's truck drive North of the Spanish border – to Cherbourg 

Quote

"Companies that do not adapt are doomed to disappear."  It is on the basis of this formula that Jean-Marc Roué, President of Brittany Ferries, made official this Friday evening the launch of the shipping company's new major project.

"We have to take into account the stakes of the Brexit, which are already disrupting traffic," insists Jean-Marc Roué. For example, we have seen a 30% increase in heavy goods vehicle traffic between the Iberian peninsula and the United Kingdom over the past year.

 Brittany's response to this phenomenon is the launch of our rail motorway between the Basque Country, the United Kingdom and Ireland via the port of Cherbourg. The ferry company plans to become a rail operator on a route of almost 1,000 km between Bayonne and Cherbourg. 

"We will launch one return trip per day for 100 lorries. Hundreds of tons of CO2 will be saved on each trip," says Jean-Marc Roué. The Normandy Region will be a partner in this project which, in the longer term, could also look towards the Mediterranean". We are in discussions with the port of Sète (Hérault).

Questions, just for a start:

  • how does this affect the Santander / Bilbao ferry route?
  • why is the Southern terminus at Bayonne rather than Irun / Hendaye on the border, which already have major rail infrastructure. (Back in the day that's where the Talgo sleeper wheelsets were changed to account for the different loading gauge - but I'm showing my age!)
  • does it signal a new multimodal route to Ireland via Cherbourg?

Interesting.

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A big change for Brittany Ferries getting into the train business 

https://www.ouest-france.fr/normandie/la-brittany-ferries-prend-le-rail-6705595

 Companies that do not adapt are doomed to disappear. It is by relying on this formula that Jean-Marc Roué, president of Brittany Ferries, formalized this Friday evening the launch of the new major project of the shipping company.

He took advantage of the company's corporate vows ceremony in Bénouville near Caen.  We must take into account the challenges of Brexit which are already disrupting traffic, insists Jean-Marc Roué. For example, over the past year we have seen a 30% increase in truck traffic between the Iberian Peninsula and the United Kingdom. 

Brittany's response to this phenomenon:  The launch of our rail motorway between the Basque Country, the United Kingdom and Ireland via the port of Cherbourg. 

Tons of CO 2 saved

The specialist ferry company plans to become a rail operator on a journey of nearly 1,000 km between Bayonne and Cherbourg.  We will run one round trip per day for 100 trucks. Hundreds of tonnes of CO 2 saved on each trip, ”says Jean-Marc Roué. The Normandy Region will be a partner in this project which, in the longer term, could also turn to the Mediterranean. “We are talking to the port of Sète (Hérault). 

 

 

Brittany's 2020 year will be marked by the challenges of ecological transition. Rail but also new fuel with the arrival of liquefied natural gas (LNG). The Honfleur , the first LNG ferry, will be put into service this year on the Ouistreham-Portsmouth line. It will be followed by three others until 2022 on the Spanish lines of the company between Portsmouth, Santander and Bilbao.

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Frankly I'll believe it when I see it. It may be they have chosen Bayonne as Google Maps shows an area of freight infrastructure that is going back to nature on the Quai de Lesseps. It also shows incidentally just how ageing SNCF's Overhead Electrification infrastructure is getting too. It could probably handle 100 lorries a day.

Edited by Millsy
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This title of this thread got me thinking. Do you think Brittany Ferries could ever envisage being a train operator itself? Shipping companies have often diversified into other modes of transport. Many early charter airlines were created by shipping companies (e.g. Dan Air), and the first franchised train operator on the London – Edinburgh rail line was a shipping company (OCL). Of course, not all were successes. Could it make any sense for BF to operate a container train service from inland UK to inland French / Spanish container terminals? A roll-on roll-off train facility could probably be constructed at Cherbourg and Poole where the ferries are already not very far from a railway track. I have memories of seeing trains loaded very quickly onto the Great Belts ferry in Denmark. I have no idea if the margins would be sufficient to compete with the Channel Tunnel for through container traffic. Maybe not. Or whether an independent operator could have competitive cost advantages in the rail haulage part.  It most likely wouldn’t make sense for BF to go it alone, but with the right partners, could this make any sense?

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The Portsmouth Intermodal Freight terminal built at a cost of, I think, nearly £1m at Fratton saw, I think I am correct in saying, 1 train which ran on the the official opening day. Poole might be a better bet. Probably the destinations of the containers and whether they could be assembled into block trains of sufficient length would be the determining factor. The reason that Dick Beeching let most of the rail freight traffic go was the amount of handling it required. He reckoned and, I see no need to reassess this, that the only way rail could be competitive over road was once the distance of fixed formation block trains from terminal to terminal was great enough for the economics to make sense. There may be environmental reasons for a change to rail that is a quite different matter. The last figures I can find for Southampton showed 27% of containers were handled by rail.

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14 minutes ago, Millsy said:

The Portsmouth Intermodal Freight terminal built at a cost of, I think, nearly £1m at Fratton saw, I think I am correct in saying, 1 train which ran on the the official opening day. Poole might be a better bet. Probably the destinations of the containers and whether they could be assembled into block trains of sufficient length would be the determining factor. The reason that Dick Beeching let most of the rail freight traffic go was the amount of handling it required. He reckoned and, I see no need to reassess this, that the only way rail could be competitive over road was once the distance of fixed formation block trains from terminal to terminal was great enough for the economics to make sense. There may be environmental reasons for a change to rail that is a quite different matter. The last figures I can find for Southampton showed 27% of containers were handled by rail.

Would it need something like they have at Eurocentral?

https://www.sestran.gov.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/Coatbridge_brochure.pdf
 

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Interestingly after he left the BRB Beeching was asked by  Wislon to conduct a study into a UK wide freight transport policy. There seems little doubt that left to his own devices Beeching would have come up with a policy that encouraged hauliers and the railway to work together doing what each was most economically suited to.  He was stymied, Dick Hardy, reckons by being lumbered with fellow analysts by the Minister Frank Cousins (you have to be a certain age to recall just how tiring listening to these ex trade union political windbags could be) and by an unholy alliance between the hauliers and their then pretty well completely unionised workforce (of which Cousins had been the TGWU Gen Sec) and as a result ditched the work  and went back to private business. 

Edited by Millsy
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A similar system to that proposed by BF already operates out of a depot close to the A9 near Perpignan (La Boulou), which takes freight to Paris and beyond. Not sure how much it is used as there always seems to be spare wagons by the main road. Also the equivalent of 50 lorries a day of fruit & veg are loaded on carriages at Perpignan for transport to Rungis (the big Paris wholesale market). Needless to say lorry drivers have protested despite the reduced carbon footprint

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Several options for BF Freight Trains

Sadly the "Primeurs" service to Rungis has fallen in to disarray.

However there are lots of high level talks with SNCF, Rungis, the Ministry and the main shippers about alternatives and other potential food freight routes

I know that Danone already uses rail to ship mineral water to the UK, but not sure what / who else is involved.

One of the most interesting – from the BF-watchers' point of view – is Cool Rail, which currently takes [IIRC] three or four trainloads a week of fruit and veg from Spain to Rotterdam. The system uses regular reefer containers fed from the train supply,

Might there be a tie-up here to bring fresh produce to the UK either partnering with Cool Rail or using its technology?

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20+ years ago a test container train was run from Poole. Before it could do so, the footbridge next to the crossing in the High Street had to be altered to ensure safe passage. Since then a new footbridge has been installed over the Hamworthy spur, near the ferry terminal, despite the track being currently unused. I would hope they took container trains into account before constructing it.

There is quite a long length of track that could be used to assemble a train load of containers. Not quite sure how they would load them on to the line, and at which point. Currently the line is fenced off where the port access road crosses it, and then the road runs parallel to the line for entry to the port for cars. I'm not sure how far the track continues beyond the crossing towards the harbour, so there may not be room for a quick solution if it was decided to use the railway.

Using the railway would solve a lot of other problems, such as lack of motorway / dual carriageways into Poole, and issues with the volume of lorries in residential areas. Of course those backing on to the track may then complain....

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2 hours ago, kenw said:

I know that Danone already uses rail to ship mineral water to the UK, but not sure what / who else is involved.

I'm not into boycotting companies or products for political, ethical or cultural reasons, mainly as I don't believe it ever really works. However, I do think that shipping mineral water in plastic bottles overseas to countries where the tap water is perfectly safe to drink, doesn't generally taste bad and is in plentiful supply (even in Peckham apparently) is unnecessary and today unacceptable. I will admit I do buy bottled water. I always keep a couple of dozen in the cellar just in case for any reason we are told not to drink the tap water round here - contamination, engineering works etc - and for parties will have some San Pelligrino available for those who don't wish to drink alcohol. The rest of the time it is standard tap water, left to stand for at least an hour to help any chemical taste dissipate and the use of reusable Tupperware (plastic yes but not disposable) bottles when travelling,  cycling or at work. Ed.

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19 minutes ago, rogerpatenall said:

Danone have indeed shipped ( or 'railed') Evian to the UK for many years - but in bulk tanks. Bottling takes place in the UK.

That's obviously a positive solution to the transport of bulky plastic problem (but doesn't eliminate the material from the process) but do the tanks go back empty or are we sending them Highland Spring or Iron Bru in exchange? Ed. 

Edited by Cabin-boy

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26 minutes ago, Trun said:

20+ years ago a test container train was run from Poole. Before it could do so, the footbridge next to the crossing in the High Street had to be altered to ensure safe passage. Since then a new footbridge has been installed over the Hamworthy spur, near the ferry terminal, despite the track being currently unused. I would hope they took container trains into account before constructing it.

There is quite a long length of track that could be used to assemble a train load of containers. Not quite sure how they would load them on to the line, and at which point. Currently the line is fenced off where the port access road crosses it, and then the road runs parallel to the line for entry to the port for cars. I'm not sure how far the track continues beyond the crossing towards the harbour, so there may not be room for a quick solution if it was decided to use the railway.

Using the railway would solve a lot of other problems, such as lack of motorway / dual carriageways into Poole, and issues with the volume of lorries in residential areas. Of course those backing on to the track may then complain....

Around 2 years ago I posted a link on the forum regarding HMG's plan to look at a rail freight service from Poole but just as with the proposed HGV staging/stopover facility close to the Upton roundabout, it's all gone quiet now. The proposed truck facility off junction 9 of the M27, up by the NATS complex & Whiteley Shopping Centre has gone quiet too.

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6 minutes ago, Cabin-boy said:

are we sending them Highland Spring or Iron Bru in exchange?

Tizer for now, apparently  A.G Barr's girders for the Iron Bru weren't EU spec. A dedicated tanker facility using converted LNG ships is being looked at, the rumour is Rosyth will be used and a converted Tuborg/Carlberg site in Esbjerg.

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With CoolRail already running three trains a week carrying refrigerated containers of fresh fruit and veg direct from Valencia to Rotterdam - and with plans to extend that service through tne tunnel to the UK - I don't think transhipping produce on to ferries from Cherbourg to Poole will come into the equation.

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2 hours ago, wortley said:

With CoolRail already running three trains a week carrying refrigerated containers of fresh fruit and veg direct from Valencia to Rotterdam - and with plans to extend that service through tne tunnel to the UK - I don't think transhipping produce on to ferries from Cherbourg to Poole will come into the equation.

I think that's right. The economics don't work if there is too much handling. It is interesting that when BR set up freightliner in the sixties the notion was of transport from terminal to terminal inland the fact that the main part of the business developed as dockside to inland terminal was unexpected. But if you think about it with hindsight inevitable. If you put a box on a lorry to get it to the despatching terminal in a good number of cases it would be more sensible to take it all the way by lorry. In the end most of the major urban terminals planned for freightliner were never opened or later closed. What Beeching was after - and this was the mindset of the time - was a way of closing all the tiny good depots and concentrating the traffics he did want into a small number of large terminals. It ended up as dockside to terminal. Until BF start carrying ISO boxes as deck cargo in trainload quantities I don't see them being a player really. Now if they'd persisted with the road railer....

Image result for road railer BR"

Edited by Millsy

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i think brittany ferries would not invest money in a train line with the help of the normandy region and european union to put trucks on the road i see rosslare cherbourg portsmouth cherbourg in freight for 2021

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3 hours ago, Cabin-boy said:

That's obviously a positive solution to the transport of bulky plastic problem (but doesn't eliminate the material from the process) but do the tanks go back empty or are we sending them Highland Spring or Iron Bru in exchange? Ed. 

Maybe the tanks could be a new " economy " service to the Continent .

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3 hours ago, wortley said:

With CoolRail already running three trains a week carrying refrigerated containers of fresh fruit and veg direct from Valencia to Rotterdam - and with plans to extend that service through tne tunnel to the UK - I don't think transhipping produce on to ferries from Cherbourg to Poole will come into the equation.

There's a new distribution centre in Ashford which handles 40% of the U.K's refrigerated fruit and veg but let's not forget that apples, pears & citrus fruit isn't chilled.

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22 minutes ago, David Williams said:

'Operational within two years' according to the article which might link in quite nicely with that rumour of Cotentin returning at some point. Ed. 

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I just can't see fruit and veg being trucked across the Spanish plateau from the Costa del Polythene around Almeria to Hendaye. then a rail freight journey to Cherbourg, then a ferry to Poole , and then another truck to the big depot at Ashford . Cherbourg may have its dreams of revival but the Channel tunnel will win.

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I think that Cherbourg rail works from Ireland & if the new Customs regime between the UK and EU causes delay, unaccompanied freight in it’s many guises will get more popular and multi modal solutions or large multi national freight companies will become the norme to the detriment of the owner operators.

ps, however I still believe that containers are far more flexible than trailers and that is not the BF market.

Edited by David Williams

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