Launch of the new Barcelona–Bettembourg rail motorway service

Lorry Rail, subsidiary of SNCF group, CFL and Lohr industries is launching operation of a new line connecting the Barcelona Can Tunis and Bettembourg (Luxembourg) intermodal terminals on 19 February 2019. It is the 5th rail motorway operated by VIIA Lorry Rail for transporting unaccompanied semi-trailers.

This opening is a first in Spain. The Barcelona–Bettembourg line is the first rail motorway from Spain and also represents the first time P400 semi-trailers are to be loaded on to trains departing the Iberian Peninsula.

Upon launch of the service, there will be five weekly round trips between Barcelona and Bettembourg, across a distance of 1,219 km. The train will be completed by some wagons loaded in Perpignan to benefit from the French and Luxembourgian convoys’ capability. From April 2019, the new rail motorway will run six round trips per week, with an estimated journey time of 22 hours.

Reynald Nicolas, Managing Director of Lorry Rail mentioned: “this service is adding up to the existing service between Bettembourg and Le Boulou and reinforces massively Lorry Rail presence on one of the major axes connecting the north of Europe to Spain.”

This service, open to P400-type trailers and containers, saves around 1 tonne of CO2 per trailer per journey, which, over the course of a year, is equivalent to a savings of 23,070 tonnes of CO2 on this line. The number of lorries that will be transferred from the roads on to rail is estimated at around 22,090.
Thierry Le Guilloux, Chairman of VIIA, said: “The inauguration of the new line between Barcelona and Bettembourg, three months after the Calais–Orbassano line, is testament to the strength of rail motorways in Europe. It’s also the result of lots of cooperation, particularly with Spanish partners, with the common objective of increasing the proportion of multimodal transport used in transporting freight.”

The line’s operation is a collaborative effort. VIIA Lorry Rail relies on the Alonso Group’s multimodal terminal facilities. The terminal in Bettembourg is operated by the CFL Group, a long-term partner on the group’s other rail motorway lines. The trains are driven by Fret SNCF in France and by Renfe for the Spanish section.

Rail Motorways

Lorry Rail is a common subsidiary of the CFL, SNCF and Lohr groups. It operates since 2007 the Bettembourg (Luxembourg)–Le Boulou line and makes three round trips per day across a distance of 1,045 km in 15 hours.

SNCF Group tasked VIIA with developing rail motorways in France and in Europe. In 2018, 106,615 units were transported and 80,000 tons of CO2 were saved.

Other lines are in operation, contributing to the developing modal shift.

Calais–Turin Orbassano, which was opened last November, covers 1,150 km in 18 hours. Calais–Le Boulou, in service in March 2016, operates up to 2 round trips per day across a distance of 1,470 km in 23 hours.

Finally, Aiton (Chambéry)–Orbassano, open since 2003, covers 175 km between France and Italy in 3 hours, with 4 round trips per day.