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Published: 14 February 2017      

Wider vision for Medlink

Marseille-Fos CEO Christine Cabau Woehrel has called for a united approach to marketing hinterland rail and waterways connections after being named as 2017 Chairman of Medlink Ports

Medlink Ports was formed several years ago by Mediterranean ports Marseille-Fos and Sète, waterways authority Voies Navigables de France, Compagnie Nationale du Rhône and the river ports of Lyon, Chalon-sur-Saône, Mâcon, Pagny, Villefranche-sur-Saône, Vienne Sud, Avignon le Pontet and Arles.

Since then a further 18 members have joined – river operators, stevedoring companies and regular shippers – and last year traffic reached 103 Mt, making Medlink the leading river-port trade group in France.

Speaking at her appointment ceremony, Mme Cabau Woehrel outlined her vision to enhance the partnership by offering shippers "a multimodal palette of logistics solutions," notably in association with rail options, suggesting this would increase efficiency and boost national and international visibility.

She also proposed forming a consultative strategic body with State and regional authorities to activate a 2016 government report on the benefits and competitiveness of the Med-Rhone-Saone axis.

Earlier Mme Cabau Woehrel underlined Marseille-Fos's key hinterland role when addressing some 3,000 delegates in Lyon at a trade event for small/medium enterprises. Noting that Marseille-Fos was working to increase its current 55% share of the region’s exports, she pointed out that three rail and three river services per day, as well as road links, offered Lyon shippers a natural gateway to the 158 countries served by the port.

She stated that transit times to Asia could be cut by up to five days compared with shipping from northern Europe.

For the record, in 2016 non-road inland distribution of containers over Marseille-Fos came to 121,000 TEU by rail (+ 8%) and 83,000 TEU by inland waterway (- 16%), giving non-road an overall share of 16% % (ie 204,000 TEU out of total throughput of 1.25M TEU).

By way of comparison, HAROPA Le Havre handled 1.96M TEU of imp/ex containers last year, of which 260,000 TEU moved inland by rail and water, giving a non-road share of 13%. Container barge traffic came to 180,000 TEU (+ 11%), but rail was down by around 10,000 TEU to 80,000 TEU.

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