Photos: Jérémie Anne

FRANCE: Open access co-operative Railcoop ran its first freight train on November 15.

Formed of a centre-cab BB G-1000 diesel-hydraulic locomotive hauling eight four-axle wagons loaded with agricultural products, the inaugural train left the Toulouse St-Jory marshalling yard at 09.17 and arrived at Capdenac, 150 km to the north, shortly after 13.00. On hand to welcome its arrival, Railcoop President Dominique Guerrée explained that ‘this was our first train, and believe me, there will be many more!’


Railcoop had been awarded an operating licence by the Ministry of Ecological Transition in September and was granted a safety certificate by safety regulator Établissement Public de Sécurité Ferroviaire on November 9, the last formal requirement for the company to start running trains. Valid for five years, the certificate provides for Railcoop to operate a range of freight services on parts of the national network including transports exceptionnels such as out-of-gauge loads.

The community interest group has initially obtained two Vossloh G1000s from DB Cargo France under a full service lease. It has leased 25 Rils-26 wagons from Ermewa Group, which has refurbished the vehicles after several years in storage and will also maintain them.


Operating from Monday to Friday, the regular shuttle service is intended to link Viviez-Decazeville near Capdenac with Toulouse St Jory. It has been ‘put at the disposition of companies in the Viviez-Decazeville and Capdenac clusters’, Railcoop’s freight manager Thierry Le Rall told Railway Gazette International. ‘From the beginning of 2022, we will have some other shippers on our train.’

The shuttle trains are expected to carry a range of palletised goods, including aircraft components from Airbus suppliers in the ‘Mecanic Vallée’ cluster, together with products for ‘agricultural firms, farmers’ co-operatives and wood producers’, Le Rall explained. ‘Some shippers can give us one pallet; others can give a full train.’

Railcoop is providing services as an Opérateur Ferroviaire de Proximité, or regional short line, and is ready to work with other operators and road haulage partners for the first and last mile connections, he added. ‘For Viviez-Decazeville and Capdenac, we have connections around 20 km, and for Toulouse around 10 km. From the beginning of 2022, we will be a freight forwarder, so we will manage transport on national level.’


Looking ahead, Railcoop has paths on other routes in the Occitanie region. ‘We can go to Rodez, Montauban, Brive and Bordeaux’, Le Rall explained, adding that the key constraint on expansion was the authorisation of drivers

Having completed its first step, Railcoop is now working towards the launch of its first passenger service between Lyon and Bordeaux via Limoges and Montluçon. However, the start of this service has been put back six months to the December 2022 timetable change, subject to negotiation of suitable paths from SNCF Réseau. Insiders report that the under-used route still requires extensive infrastructure repairs.