Five French road hauliers to drive modal shift to rail in Western France

Image: Shutterstock. Freakin Frames Several road haulage and logistics operators in Western France's Pays de la Loire region have joined forces to drive a modal shift to rail and create a combined transport terminal in the coming years. Ageneau Group, Transports Thebault, TC-Transports, Immo-Ouest Groupe OPAL and Combronde, together with public sector support from the Maine-et-Loire Chamber of Commerce and Industry, have set up a dedicated company, Transport Multimodal Alliances (TMA) to pilot the project.

It follows 16 months of preparatory work on the project by Ageneau Group and two independent consultancies. While Combronde is already an established road-rail operator, TMA's other transport members have had a very limited presence in the segment. "This underlines the strong commitment of the TMA partners to get things moving," highlighted Philippe Ageneau, CEO of Ageneau Group.

TMA to function as an aggregator

"The aim is to encourage modal shift to and from the rail network in the Pays de la Loire by positioning it as a major route for the decarbonisation of freight and a lever of competitiveness and attractiveness for the region's businesses," TMA said. "By carrying out 90,000 transshipments a year, for example, the equivalent of 20 trains a week, we can save 50,000 tonnes of CO2.

This is a very realistic target since it represents barely 3 per cent of the tonnage currently being moved between the Pays de la Loire and other regions," added the company. TMA will act as an aggregator, identifying potential players, consolidating and coordinating transport flows, and promoting the sustainable development of multimodal transport lines. In the coming weeks, other local shippers will join the alliance. "We want to encourage the development of high-volume freight flows, the pooling of resources, and the complementarity of transport modes," TMA noted.

Terminal in 2027, trains from 2025

In collaboration with the Angers Loire Metropolitan Council, the Pays de la Loire Region, SNCF Reseau, and the French government, TMA plans to set up a multimodal terminal at Angers-Trelaze-Saint Barthelemy d'Anjou on a 25-hectare site from 2027.

However, the first freight trains could enter service as early as 2025 at a temporary site in Angers. "From the first year of operation, with a minimum of five round-trip trains per week, we can achieve an 83 per cent reduction in CO2 emissions compared with current road transport," TMA claimed. Philippe Ageneau also told that the project will now undergo a feasibility study phase to demonstrate the economic sustainability of the model and infrastructure and determine the precise costs. "In any case, as a public utility infrastructure, multimodal terminals benefit from a subsidy scheme (with funding from the EU, State and Region)," he said.

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