WITH THE French government required to open up its domestic rail freight market by March 31 (RG 2.05 p58), operators are lining up to compete with Fret SNCF.

After filing an application in November 2004, rail4chem announced on February 13 that it had received a safety certificate from the transport ministry five days earlier, claiming it was ’the first foreign rail carrier able to provide services as an independent operator in France’. Connex subsidiary CFTA Cargo has been running since June 2005 (RG 7.05 p409), and Eurotunnel subsidiary Europorte 2 obtained a new licence on February 14, replacing one issued in February 2004.

Awarded a certificate last October, EWS subsidiary EuroCargoRail already operates on four routes around Calais. Operations Director Christian Costa confirmed in January that EuroCargoRail had applied for additional rights, including access to routes from Calais to Basel and Paris.

CFL expects its EuroLuxCargo subsidiary to start operations in France during the second quarter of 2006, and SNCB’s freight arm B-Cargo has also applied for permission to run in France. Trenitalia is in the process of establishing a French subsidiary; it expects that Trenitalia Logistics France will be formally registered in March or April.