Valencia-Rotterdam refrigerated rail service to launch next year

A refrigerated rail service between Valencia in Spain and Rotterdam in the Netherlands will be launched in January next year. Initially, the service was scheduled to commence in November this year, with services running up till Cologne in Germany. 

Fred Lessing, manager of the collective shippers group Cool Rail revealed the updated plan at the Spoorcongres, held in Tiel in the Netherlands last month.

Two dedicated trains will depart per week to embark on the 48-hour journey between the European cities. Cologne is still a destination on the fresh food route. Barcelona may be served in the future, if there is sufficient demand for the stopover. The trains will be fully loaded with 42 45ft containers per journey, Lessing said.

Refrigerated food such as fruits and vegetables form a large portion of cargo moved between Spain and the north-west of Europe. Germany is the largest market, receiving 100 thousand containers from Valencia per year. Another 60 thousand containers are shipped to the UK, while 44 thousand units reach the Netherlands. Especially oranges and tangerines are moved in large volumes, making up 45, respectively 42 per cent of all refrigerated freight on this route.

A rail freight link connecting these fruit and vegetable markets has been missing, inspiring Cool Rail to investigate the potential of a dedicated freight train on this corridor. Initiated by Dutch fruit and vegetable wholesaler Bakker Barendrecht and reusable packaging specialists Euro Pool System (EPS), the group of shippers and stakeholders has experimented with the service since October 2016. 

“The currently 4.032 trucks traveling per road every year can be substituted by 100 fully loaded round trips by train. This can be scaled up to 250 fully loaded rounds trips a year later, resulting in a CO2 reduction of seventy to ninety per cent”, said Lessing.

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