A new rail shuttle linking the leading French container ports Marseille Fos and Le Havre with Switzerland is being launched today (September 4) in a joint initiative with intermodal operator Naviland Cargo.
With three round trips per week, the France Helvetia Express service will operate between Dijon Gevrey in mid-France – where rail shuttles serving each port will connect – and the Chavornay combined transport terminal near Lausanne, in Switzerland’s French-speaking region.
Only a fraction of the estimated potential Swiss box traffic of 350,000 to 400,000 teu per year is currently handled by the French ports. Reduced transit times are expected to play a major part in capturing market share, particularly for Mediterranean-routed trades via Marseille Fos and North/South America traffic through Le Havre.
Capacity on each train will be up to 42 teu. On a Day A to Day C forwarding schedule, import traffic will be based on Friday, Monday and Tuesday departures from each port, with export consignments leaving Chavornay on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.
The initiative meets French government policy to extend the port hinterlands into the heart of Europe through the development of eco-friendly combined transport services. The France Helvetia shuttle will provide annual capacity equivalent to 12,000 trucks. Marseille Fos already offers more than 200 container shuttle options per week throughout France and also in northern Europe, notably through ‘fresh food corridors’ with Zeebrugge, Rotterdam, Hamburg and Lubeck.