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Dunkirk to strengthen rail intermodal links

Greenmodal Transport is set to introduce new connections linking the Port of Dunkirk with southern France and northern Italy, through a new company in which the port has a stake, Dunkerque Green Solutions

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France-based multimodal operator Greenmodal Transport will launch completely new intermodal rail services linking Dunkirk’s Terminal de Flandres container terminal (TdF), operated for the port by CMA CGM, with Bordeaux, Bayonne, Toulouse, Perpignan, Miramas/Marseille, Lyon, Avignon and, in Italy, Torino and Milano over Novara.


Originally part of CMA CGM, Greemodal was acquired by Novatrans, the Groupe Charles André (GCA) affiliate, in February 2017. The services over Dunkirk will be offered by Dunkerque Green Solutions (DGS), a new company in which the port of Dunkirk has taken an undisclosed stake.

The on-dock railhead at Terminal de Flandres
The on-dock railhead at Terminal de Flandres

The new services commence this month.


It is not clear if the on-dock railhead at TdF will cater for swapbodies in north-south Continental transport chains as well as maritime container flows. TdF could handle them by acquiring combi-attachments for its reach stackers, but the "last mile" trucks would have to go through the port gate. Probably the railheads for swapbodies will be the terminals on the line of route, Lille-Dourges and Paris-Valenton.


In any event, services between Dunkirk and South and South West France are offered on a Day A-C basis. In February frequency will be increased from two to three train pairs a week.

Delphine André
Delphine André

DGS will then provide a three pairs/week shuttle service between TdF, Lille-Dourges and Paris-Valenton, for steel wheel transfers with established Greenmodal/Novatrans services to/from south/south west France and north west Italy.


The three pairs/week TdF-Valenton link will take over from Greenmodal’s existing two pairs/week service between Dunkirk and the Paris market over Bonneuil-sur-Marne.


"These new services are a new key step in the development of container activity at our port," said Stéphane Raison, Chairman of the Management Board of GPM de Dunkerque. "They offer fast connections with southern hubs and increase the frequency of services for the Paris region, not just for maritime containers, but also for domestic and intra-European transports."


Delphine André, Chairman of GCA, said : "The new shuttle is part of our strategy to develop intermodal services connecting key industrial centres and ports through direct trains and/or steel wheel relay services. The port of Dunkirk has taken a proactive part in helping us to aggregate maritime and continental flows in the Hauts-de-France region over Lille-Dourges.


"Stable and regular volumes are the only way we can offset the very high fixed costs of intermodal rail, principally the costs of paths and traction. Intermodal services are economically viable only if these costs are offset by stable and constant utilisation rates."

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