FRANCE: Transport Minister Jean-Louis Borloo and Transport Secretary Dominique Bussereau announced on October 5 that three bidders had been shortlisted for the concession to operate a service carrying road trailers between the Aquitaine region, Paris and Nord-Pas-de-Calais. Known as the Autoroute Ferroviaire Atlantique, the service is due to start in 2011 once infrastructure work has been completed.

Shortlisted bidders include Lorry-Rail, which already operates a service using Modalohr swing-tray wagons to carry trailers within the GB1 loading gauge over the 1 050 km between Bettembourg in Luxemburg and Le Boulou, a railhead for the Spanish border. The other bidders are OptiCapital and a consortium lead by Combi Ouest which includes DB subsidiary Euro Cargo Rail.

A priority project under the government’s Grenelle de l’Environnement strategy to reduce road congestion and cut carbon emissions, the new service also forms part of a package of measures announced last month with the aim of reversing the decline in rail’s share of the freight market.