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FRANCE: The Aix-Marseille-Provence Métropole is to invest significant funds in local rail freight services and terminals over the next four years, as part of a strategy to reduce road congestion and associated pollution across the metropolitan area.

Setting out details of a Master Plan for Logistics & Freight Transport that was approved on October 20, Claude Faucher, Métropole Deputy Director General responsible for travel, transport and infrastructure, told delegates attending the Journée Fret Ferroviaire et Opérateurs Ferroviaires de Proximité conference on November 23 that ‘rail is a priority’ for the city-region authority.

Investment is already in hand to modernise several terminals and yards. Around €25m provided by regional and local authorities is being spent to update the marshalling yard at Miramas by 2026. A €18∙5m six-track terminal served by portal cranes is being built at Moureplane for completion in 2025, along with the modernisation of existing facilities and the construction of an access branch at a cost of €15m.

About €60m has been allocated for investment in container terminals in the Bassins Ouest area south of Miramas. In the longer term, a new terminal is also proposed at Ventillon Fos Cossoul.

The freight terminal at Clésud is to be modernised at a cost of €11∙6m, doubling its capacity from 50 000 to 100 000 intermodal transport units a year. On an adjacent site, the 4 ha Terminal Ouest Provence is being built at a cost of €24∙6m to handle 52 000 ITUs a year; this terminal is intended to handle traffic that has previously used the Canet facility in Marseille, which is being turned into a public park as part of the Euroméditerannée initiative. TOP will be fully digitalised and will initially be served by four trains a day when it opens in spring 2024.

In addition, the existing freight facilities at Saint Martin de Crau, Marseille Nord, Marseille Est and Marseille Centre are to be improved to handle a planned network of local freight services. Four routes are envisaged, which would be served by a total of 22 trains a day: Fos – Saint Martin de Crau; Fos – Clésud; Fos – Arles/Gardanne; and Miramas – Marseille.

The Métropole estimates that the €110∙7m being invested over the 2023-26 period will eliminate up to 330 lorry journeys per day, mainly in the west of the area and on the northern approaches to Marseille. It expects this to reduce annual CO2 emissions by at least 4 200 tonnes and NOx emissions by 8∙2 tonnes. Some of the funding is being sourced from the European Investment Bank.

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