FTA calls for action on migrant camp after new rail freight service is shelved

Wednesday 13 January 2016

The Freight Transport Association (FTA) says news that a planned rail freight service between the Pyrenees and the Port of Calais has been shelved over migrant security fears highlights the need for urgent action by the French government.

The intermodal service, operated by SNCF Logistics’ rail freight subsidiary VIIA, was due to start carrying unaccompanied road trailers on the route yesterday with a key market being Spanish goods bound for the UK. But VIIA says the plan has been suspended until it can ensure “optimal safety conditions for all”.

The new service would use a section of track running close to the Jungle Camp, with trains travelling at less than 12mph as they approach the port. VIIA says that although systems are in place, the migrants’ presence has raised a “rail traffic safety issue” that cannot be ignored.

Chris Yarsley, FTA’s EU Affairs Manager, said: “This is yet another example of this vital trade route being affected by the actions of the migrants in Calais. The French government needs to move the camp away from the port as soon as possible and ensure the area is secure for transport operators.

“This will affect those who ship by road, rail and sea and will dent confidence in rail as a viable option. We need to move freight off the roads and onto rail – this isn’t going to help achieve that aim.

“Our members have endured months of delays, disruptions and threats to their personal safety while travelling through Calais. This situation cannot be allowed to continue to adversely affect the livelihoods of transport operators who need to use this route.”

VIIA says SNCF and the port authorities have submitted proposals to the French government in an effort to reduce risks of an incident and it hopes the service can be launched in the near future.
FTA Press Office
01892 552255