FRANCE: CargoBeamer has opened a facility for transferring road semi-trailers to and from trains in Calais. Close to the port and the Channel Tunnel, the terminal forms part of the company’s plan to develop a European network of transhipment facilities at important hubs to handle ‘hundreds of thousands’ of semi-trailers per year.
CargoBeamer’s patented technology enables the unaccompanied transport by rail of around 80% of standard lorry semi-trailers without modification, embracing lifting equipment, wagons, transhipment terminals and logistics software.
Construction of the Calais terminal has been backed by the EU’s Connecting Europe Facility, the French government and the Hauts-de-France region. The facility was built by contractor Eiffage.
The terminal fully opened on July 10, with an initial service of four trains each way per week to Perpignan, which will be operated by DB Cargo subsidiary Euro Cargo Rail. A service to Domodossola in northern Italy is expected to follow by the end of the year, while routes to central and eastern Europe are also envisaged.
Each train is formed of 24 CargoBeamer wagons and six standard double pocket wagons, giving a capacity of 36 trailers. The Calais terminal can handle up to six arriving and six departing trains per day, with the simultaneous loading and unloading of an entire train taking about 20 min, according to the promoter.
A second stage expansion is scheduled for 2023, which would double the terminal’s capacity to 12 daily train pairs.
An important cornerstone
CargoBeamer’s first route between Kaldenkirchen near the German/Dutch border and Domodossola was launched in 2015, and this year the company launched three weekly round trips between Duisburg and Poznan.
The opening of the Calais terminal ‘is an important milestone and a real quantum leap for the development of our company’, said CEO and founder Hans-Jürgen Weidemann. ‘We view our Calais site as the starting point and an important cornerstone of a Europe-spanning network of terminals and routes, with an increasing number of connections towards southern, central and eastern Europe by rail.
‘The location of Calais promises a lot of potential with its maritime connections and the Channel Tunnel towards Britain. We are going to expand the CargoBeamer route network continuously in the upcoming years and thus shift more semi-trailers from congested roads onto environmentally friendly rail.’