SPAIN / UK. In late 2011, Europorte, Eurotunnel's rail freight subsidiary, launched a new seasonal service between Valencia and Barking to deliver fruit and vegetables for Stobart, the British multimodal logistics specialist. The first train entered Barking station, close to Charing Cross, on 25th November 2011, having crossed three countries, the Channel and travelled 1,842 km !
The service, which for now is on a weekly basis, could ramp up if loaders were on hand, and offer up to five departures per week during peak periods
Europorte Channel and Network Rail use international railways located near Folkestone, at the exit on the English side of the Tunnel, which avoids an extra stop and reduces travel time. With a travel time of 50 hours, this is certainly three times longer than by road, but it has other advantages: less tiring for drivers, fewer accidents on the roads and particularly, environmental benefits.
The rail solution becomes relevant after 600 km and this journey is therefore both innovative and doubly relevant as it is almost 2,000 km, and could therefore take 250 lorries per month off roads and motorways in Spain, France and Great Britain.
A service co-funded by the European Commission
The Eddie Stobart “Fresh” project, does indeed contribute to reducing carbon emissions from vehicles. This is something that will appeal to the European Commission who funded this service to the tune of €2.7 million, as part of the Marco Polo Programme, which is designed to encourage operators to use soft modes of transport.
This new rail service can take thirty 45-foot refrigerated containers loaded with fruit and vegetables to supermarkets and retailers in the UK. Satellite surveillance of the convoy, featuring the latest technology, continuously monitors the temperature of each container thereby ensuring the quality and freshness of the fruit and vegetables to their destination.
“This service offers both business benefits and helps preserve the environment. It’s a question of reducing the number of lorries on European motorways and reducing congestion on some busy road junctions such as the Pyrenees crossing. By being environmentally friendly, this service allows us to offer an effective solution for supermarkets and food retailers, in terms of cost and travel time”, says Stobart Rail Freight CEO, Liam Martin.
“By working closely with Stobart Rail, we have been able to adapt to customer demands and to the challenges presented by a long-distance freight service cross three countries. This partnership demonstrates the added value freight can create internationally”, adds Europorte Channel Director, Kevin Walker.