Eurotunnel (Getlink) has welcomed the start of a new intermodal service connecting London Gateway with Duisburg and points east. This is the first regular intermodal rail connection via the Channel between the UK and Germany
The service is operated for CMA CGM Logistics by GB Railfreight, now part of Sweden’s Hector Rail, and Transfesa, which is part of DB Cargo through Euro Cargo Rail, initially on the one return trip per week, with the potential to reach six returns per week in the future.
When the first China-UK train was dispatched last year – one inbound in January and one outbound in April – the Duisburg stop was a technical stop to transload containers between megafrets required for Channel tunnel and standard European flats, for the stretch between Duisburg and the gauge break on the Poland/Belarus border.
With this new service, Duisburg is the departure/destination point, so this is the first ever Channel tunnel rail intermodal service between the UK and Germany. However, as Duisburg is Europe’s biggest intermodal rail hub that already caters for multiple China train departures, there is clearly a Silk Road dimension to the new service.
Using Duisburg as an o/d point as well as a hub for onward steel wheel connections means that the transloading in Duisburg is essentially part of the cargo move, rather than a technical on-cost, so this looks like a much better bet than headline-grabbing China-UK trains.
Getlink stated: "The introduction of this service and its connection to the new Silk Road (One Belt, One Road) is further proof of Eurotunnel’s determination to relaunch rail freight, as already demonstrated with the construction of the whole-train scanner in Fréthun, the introduction of the ETICA scheme, which supports the launch of new services, and the restructuring implemented to add efficiency to border formalities at the Fréthun yard with Eurotunnel Channel."