Road Trailers Through The Channel Tunnel

Discussion in 'UK Railway Discussion' started by RichmondCommu, 27 Mar 2014.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. RichmondCommu

    RichmondCommu Established Member

    Messages:
    6,645
    Joined:
    23 Feb 2010
    Location:
    Richmond, London
    G'day everyone,

    The SNCF are planning to launch a new freight service from Calais hauling road trailers. Now it’s pretty obvious that this train is starting at Calais to take advantage of lorries coming off ferries and of course the tunnel so why is this train not running from Barking freight terminal?

    Now of course I'm assuming here that HS1 is capable of carrying road trailers but I don't see why not. And if it’s not possible for GBRF or DBS to reach an agreement with the SNCF why not start a rival service. From what I can see SNCF Fret couldn't run a bath so surely it is at least worth starting a trial service?

    Your thoughts would be very welcome!

    Richmond Commuter!
     
    Last edited: 27 Mar 2014
  2. Registered users do not see these banners - join or log in today!

    Rail Forums

     
  3. edwin_m

    edwin_m Veteran Member

    Messages:
    14,582
    Joined:
    21 Apr 2013
    Location:
    Nottingham
    Would extending it through the Tunnel involve extra fire precautions and security checks, of the type that failed to prevent the two lorry fires? Along with Eurotunnel's charges, lack of daytime paths on HS1, and the fact that Barking won't be convenient for everyone, I can quite see SNCF wanting to leave the difficult bit to someone else.
     
  4. DownSouth

    DownSouth Established Member

    Messages:
    1,545
    Joined:
    10 Dec 2011
    I'd count on there being three obstacles to it:

    1. Customs and security - TOFC trains don't have the security features of intermodal trains so they would need to be stopped for a lengthy inspection inside the secure zones of the Eurotunnel terminals. Using the existing security arrangements would be far more efficient than setting up some new methods.

    2. Rolling stock incompatibility - the freight shuttle cars are too tall for classic lines and therefore captive to the Eurotunnel system, and I doubt that a conventional TOFC train would meet the Channel Tunnel safety requirements. Even if conventional TOFC was approved for the tunnel, customs/security inspections in the Eurotunnel secure zones would require new infrastructure fit to handle conventional TOFC trains instead of the captive Eurotunnel freight shuttle.

    3. The classic problem of hybrid services - SNCF appear to have done their homework and learned from other TOFC services that work best when they provide connectivity rather than convoluted hybrid services. Having the end point at Calais rather than London allows the service to be used by non-London traffic to/from Britain and even domestic freight to the north of France.
     
  5. Ploughman

    Ploughman Established Member

    Messages:
    2,222
    Joined:
    15 Jan 2010
    TOFC means what?
     
  6. ChiefPlanner

    ChiefPlanner Established Member

    Messages:
    5,040
    Joined:
    6 Sep 2011
    Location:
    Herts
    Trailer on Flat Car

    US terminology - though the French used the term "Kangerou" way back:D
     
  7. Chris125

    Chris125 Established Member

    Messages:
    2,286
    Joined:
    12 Nov 2009
    Interestingly 'modalohr' wagons are at least approved for use through the tunnel, as reported here

    Chris
     
  8. RichmondCommu

    RichmondCommu Established Member

    Messages:
    6,645
    Joined:
    23 Feb 2010
    Location:
    Richmond, London
    So lets start using them! Barking is very close to the M25 and I really think we're missing a trick here.
     
  9. Wavertreelad

    Wavertreelad Member

    Messages:
    695
    Joined:
    24 Feb 2013
    Piggy back really only works if long distances are involved and the trailers are unaccompanied. Most cross channel freight on the Dover /Calais route is probably driver accompanied once the vehicle is off the ferry it is on the road to destination immediately. On the more northern ferry route to and from the Humber to the Netherlands, Germany and Scandinavia there is a high proportion of unaccompanied movements because the ferry crossing is longer so allowing hauliers to best utilise the driver and tractor unit for other jobs, whilst the trailer crosses the North Sea. A partner's driver and tractor unit then picks up the trailer and effects the delivery. The principle is used by a containership operator who will order up to three or four times the number of containers for each ship to allow they to be filled whilst the ship is at sea.
    On a relatively short crossing from Dover or even Barking the truck would probably have to arrive at least an hour before departure so such a service is hardly likely to attract a driver accompanied service. More of an attraction would be unaccompanied services to Spain, Portugal, Italy were the weekend ban on trucks in France prevents driver accompanied services operating over parts of the weekend.
     
  10. edwin_m

    edwin_m Veteran Member

    Messages:
    14,582
    Joined:
    21 Apr 2013
    Location:
    Nottingham
    To add to that, I believe a crossing such as Dover-Calais or Eurotunnel is about the right length for a driver to have a statutory break, so with good planning the driver doesn't lose any productive time. With longer journeys the driver's time accompanying a load will be unproductive, unless perhaps the crossing gets long enough to be an overnight? There is also the tradeoff between the costs the ferry company will charge for loading and unloading an unaccompanied trailer, versus those for carrying a tractor as well.
     
  11. RichmondCommu

    RichmondCommu Established Member

    Messages:
    6,645
    Joined:
    23 Feb 2010
    Location:
    Richmond, London
    But the SNCF service from Calais is based on trailers only and no tractor units so why not extend this to Barking? I don't see why a trailer cannot be dropped off in Barking and carted off to all the destinations that you have suggested which was the point of my original thread. Yes such service can't run any further than Barking but I don't see that as being a real problem.
    --- old post above --- --- new post below ---
    Hang on a minute, why are we discussing lorry drivers? The SNCF are only carrying trailers, not lorry drivers! Why can't a lorry driver drop a trailer off at Barking and see it transported to Italy / Spain / Portugal with a driver collecting it at the end of its journey? There is no need for a driver to travel any further than Barking!
     
  12. Wavertreelad

    Wavertreelad Member

    Messages:
    695
    Joined:
    24 Feb 2013
    I think you will find the answer to this it is one of the quirks European road freight market. Manufacturers in Northern Europe, and the UK tend to send their goods to each other mainly using accompanied trailers because the distance is relatively short and the flows are fairly constant making it easier to gain return loads. The exception being price sensitive bulk loads such as steel and chemicals which tend to move in unaccompanied trailers.

    In contrast whilst the same manufactured goods are sent by northern Europe to southern Europe are much the same, northbound there is a huge amount of fresh produce which is also seasonal and requires refrigeration. This means that these trucks have to be driver accompanied to ensure the temperature is maintained throughout the journey. As a result, these vehicles are unable to carry certain types of cargo on the return southbound movement the majority of which is carried at ambient temperature. The large availability of these units which also are owned in their southern European countries forces a downward pressure on the rates charged so often they will accept loads with minimal return just to get them back home. This pricing policy has a knock on effect on the rest of the market so the appeal of piggyback is somewhat restricted simply because the northbound unaccompanied market is relatively small, as much of this product moves in containers by ship from Italy, Spain and Portugal to the UK in particular.
     
  13. RichmondCommu

    RichmondCommu Established Member

    Messages:
    6,645
    Joined:
    23 Feb 2010
    Location:
    Richmond, London
    Thanks for your interesting post. However it would appear that the SNCF disagree with you as their Modalohr wagons are only carrying trailers. As I've already stated the Calais service is starting there for a very good reason so if unaccompanied trailers are running from Calais why not from Barking? The article in Today’s Railways Europe also suggests that carrying tractor units is the exception rather than the rule. I really think we're missing a trick here.
     
  14. edwin_m

    edwin_m Veteran Member

    Messages:
    14,582
    Joined:
    21 Apr 2013
    Location:
    Nottingham
    If there is a market there then maybe someone else will start running a road trailer service from Barking. It would have to depart there late at night and arrive early in the morning, because there is no capacity for freight on HS1 at other times. As I suggested above, SNCF might just see this as too difficult - they can do pretty much as they wish in France but would need a UK partner with suitable motive power and safety case to run over HS1.
     
  15. Wavertreelad

    Wavertreelad Member

    Messages:
    695
    Joined:
    24 Feb 2013
    The problem is identifying the market and convincing it that piggyback is an alternative to and from the UK assuming the safety and security issues can be resolved. Identifying the market is difficult because it is so fragmented. Imagine trying to work out what every none container carrying truck on the road is carrying, it's origin starting point and destination and then applying that across Europe. There is no commercial database of this information so it is purely down to market research which takes time and you still have to price competitively and convince the customer to change long established habits.

    Of course piggyback is not new in Europe, I believe there is one organisation CargoBeamer already in existence although I am not sure the extent of their current network which their website shows as pan-European. I am there somewhat curious as to the destinations to be served by SNCF, but there could be reasons for decision.

    The maximum weight for a truck in France is about 40 tonnes which is about 4 tonnes less than many parts of Europe, including the UK. Assuming operators and truckers have a means of moving the "overweight" trucks from the railhead to final destination and reverse at a competitive level the service could be a success.

    Another quirk to the market is the trade between France and the French speaking countries of North Africa such as Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco which will be considerably larger than other North European states. The vast majority of exports and imports to and from these states to these North African states are carried by ship in containers through often congested ports. However, due to France's geographical position their exports can move via Marseille/Fos by ferry which avoid the congestion problems, but because of the distance, slow customs clearance and relatively slow turnaround favours non accompanied trucks. Given the road restrictions and rising costs in France, using piggyback to transport these unaccompanied trailers from the more industrial north to the southern ports could be a significant target area. Extending the service to Barking might therefore be a priority especially if the cost of the tunnel transit created a rate that was not competitive with shipment by container.
     
  16. Shimbleshanks

    Shimbleshanks Member

    Messages:
    503
    Joined:
    2 Jan 2012
    One of the rail freight companies (I think it was DB Schenker) did a demonstration piggyback service to Barking via HS1 a couple of years back, in conjunction with the Dutch logistics company Ewals, saying they planned to start a regular service a few months after that. But it never happened, the traffic they hoped to get never having materialised.
     
  17. telstarbox

    telstarbox Established Member

    Messages:
    4,328
    Joined:
    23 Jul 2010
    Location:
    Wennington Crossovers
    A very interesting discussion.

    Which trainload/intermodal freight services run via the Channel Tunnel at present?
     
  18. Wavertreelad

    Wavertreelad Member

    Messages:
    695
    Joined:
    24 Feb 2013
    This is exactly the sort of problem that makes UK companies reluctant to commit to rail as far as movements to Europe are concerned. There are regular announcements from companies announcing new rail freight services across Europe, which then disappear. To make matters worse, those further distance destinations which you would expect to ideal candidates, ie Italy and Greece which traditionally were served by smaller less competitive containers ships are now served by much larger units on fixed day of the week departures. This results in very low rates making it very difficult for other forms of transport to be competitive.
     
  19. RichmondCommu

    RichmondCommu Established Member

    Messages:
    6,645
    Joined:
    23 Feb 2010
    Location:
    Richmond, London
    I get the impression that the SNCF have already done their market research regarding freight currently making its way across / under the Channel. The SNCF are introducing a service running from Lille to serve the industrial North (as you suggested) along side the Calais service. This suggests that the SNCF think that there is a real market for cross Channel lorry load freight.

    CargoBeamer is a German idea which has not yet entered service. From what I can see the German design doesn't offer the same amount of flexibility and carries fewer trailers.

    I don't understand why this should be an issue as there are plenty of UK registered lorries that run through France. The haulage companies that are likely to use this service would be very experienced in terms of transporting cargo through France and beyond.

    Your argument would appear to be more relevant if the SNCF were only running one service to Lille. The fact that they are planning a service to Calais suggests that they think there is a strong market for hauling trailers from the Med (including Italy and Spain) and of course Marseille all the way through France to Calais and beyond. Don't forget that refrigerated containers are already running from Valencia to Barking as part of the Ford "blue train".
     
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.

Share This Page