New Calais-Spain ‘Lorry Train’

A new rail terminal for unaccompanied trailers has been inaugurated at Calais Port. It is expected to take 40,000 trucks off the road each year between northern France and Spain, though a huge upswing in business across the Channel means there should still be plenty of work to go round.

Also, a National Lorry Week look at the Mercedes-Benz Actros. Still some ifs and buts over the abolition of mobile phone roaming charges.



Six days per week, 22 hour crossing from next January.

New 'lorry rail' terminal at Calais with side-load bays. Photo VIIA

New ‘lorry rail’ terminal at Calais with side-load bays. Photo VIIA

A new ‘Lorry Rail’ service at Calais Port will take 40,000 trucks of the road each year from when it opens next January.

The journey to Le Boulou on the Spanish Mediterranean frontier will take 22 hours. Two round trips will run each day, six days per week.

Speaking at the inauguration of the new terminal last Friday, Jean-Marc Puissesseau, the CEO of the Port of Boulogne Calais, said, ‘We are proud to be the first European port to possess a terminal of this type. This investment brings the port new prospects for development, and anticipates the growth expected for the port thanks to Calais Port 2015.’

Operated by VIIA, a subsidiary of SNCF Logistics, the new terminal uses new side-loading wagons which allows trailers to be towed directly onto the train as opposed to lifted on by crane as currently.

The new facility cost €7m, funded by the Port of Calais-Boulogne and the EU through the ‘BRIDGE’ project (Building the Resilience of International and Dependent Gateways in Europe).

Freight traffic is expected to grow by 40% by 2030 on the Dover-Calais sea route.

The Calais-Le Boulou route joins the existing Luxembourg-Le Boulou and Chambery-Turin lines.

Operations start on 12 January 2016 with bookings allowed up to one hour before departure. No prices have been announced but VIIA says pre-sales tickets are now available.

For more information see Calais Port and

Update 28 October: despite having cancelled the similar Calais-Bordeaux rail motorway project in April over costs, French transport minister Alain Vidalies said today he was working with his Spanish counterpart on a rolling motorway along the ‘Atlantic Corridor’ according to a statement. This diagonal road, rail and waterway route links the Iberian Peninsula with France and Germany and is one of the EU’s TEN-T (Trans-European Network) priorities. They will invite expressions of interest next year. The French terminus is likely to be Le Havre.


Mercedes-Benz Actros, Belgian Grand Prix 2013. More later.

F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone loves the Mercedes-Benz Actros. He must do, he has at least twenty of them to ship the Formula One circus around the Continent, all painted a bespoke FOM (Formula One Management) grey, and all with sequential personal number plates. Interestingly, for such a top of the range kind of guy, the F1 Actros are all the third tier StreamSpace version (though since this picture was taken at the 2013 Belgian Grand Prix it’s entirely possible he has upgraded twice since then). Aside from the ultra-heavy haulage SLT, the daddy Actros has the GigaSpace cab with a ‘three room apartment’ inside, with room to work, relax and sleep. Thanks to modular construction there are a bewildering number of Actros available – check out the configurator – all available with the top 15.6 litre, straight six diesel engine which pumps out a healthy 625bhp. Photo @DriveEurope.


roundup: MOBILE PHONES. Roaming charges will be abolished by June 2017 following a vote in the European Parliament today. However, there will still be a ‘fair use’ limit after which a ‘small basic fee’ can be charged. The European Commission will define the limit. Also, if abolishing roaming undermines an operator’s national business they may still be able to apply a roaming surcharge with the agreement of regulators. Meanwhile, from April next year roaming charges will be cut to around 25% of the current cap according to a statement. Operators will only be able to charge an extra €0.05/min for calls, €0.02 per text and €0.05/MB of data.


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