Air, Business, Freight News, Logistics

Express rail gains momentum

[ December 12, 2011   //   ]

The ‘CAREX’ consortium of European air freight operators is anticipating further developments for its plans to create a pan-European rail-based express network in 2012 followi g a meeting of participants on 24 November. Participants reviewed the results of two market studies commissioned by the project – – one commissioned by the EURO CAREX federation and carried out by the Belgian ETS market research company looked at the potential traffic that could be transferred to the rail service at the various ‘railports’ at Amsterdam, Liège, London, Lyon and Roissy. This “extremely complicated” exercise is currently being completed and should result in the drawing up of a transport plan in, in a second phase.

The other survey, carried out by the Frost and Sullivan market research company and commissioned by SNCF Geodis and Eurotunnel, demonstrated that night flight traffic would be the essential basis for the “CAREX” project. These flows are mainly made up of high value added “express” flows operating to tight deadlines.

In a statement, the participants added: “The railports involved in the project’s first phase have done remarkable work and many of them are ready to lay the foundation stone; 2012 will be rich in events that may, with a little help from the crisis, mould the political support essential for the realisation of the affair. All of the lights are on green at the crossroads; all we have to do now is put some fuel in the tank and press the accelerator.”

In an earlier interview with FBJ, a spokesman from one of the participants suggested that the five-year old Carex scheme is running behind schedule but is still going ahead, and suggested a revised start-date of 2015. A site has been chosen for the main French rail hub, opposite Fedex’s main European hub at Paris Roissy airport and a plan has been drawn up for the initial tranche of services, that will probably cover the UK, Benelux and Cologne in Germany. Spain (Barcelona) will be added in a second phase and Italy at the third stage. Development does however depend on how quickly the European high speed rail network can be expanded.

Airfreight containers could be transferred direct from incoming planes to the trains, which could offer a competitive service on distances of 3-600km. The trains themselves would probably be converted French trains a grande vitesse, capable of up to 300kmph (180mph).

As well as Fedex, UPS and the Chronopost express mail arm of the French post office are also involved in the Carex consortium, as well as Air France-KLM.