Bettembourg - Le Boulou rail motorway service (Photo: VIIA)

Photos: VIIA

FRANCE: The government has called for expressions of interest to operate a lorry trailer carrying service between the English Channel port of Calais and the Mediterranean port of Sète south of Montpellier. Submissions are required by May 16.

Plans call for the service to start no later than 2022. Potential operators may qualify for government funding during a start-up phase.

Minister of Transport Jean-Baptiste Djébbari said ‘this new autoroute ferroviaire will improve rail services between the ports. By developing trans-national rail freight corridors, the government is promoting environmental transition – once an autoroute ferroviaire is set up, it means 20 000 fewer lorries a year on the roads.’

The move announced on April 2 follows the government’s earlier decision to reintroduce a fast rail service for fresh fruit and vegetable traffic between Perpignan and Rungis in the Paris suburbs.

Expressions of interest in running this service were sought on December 15 last year, with responses reportedly received from Fret SNCF and one other operator. The government hopes the service can be relaunched later this year.