590 - Frigo container train - Marseille PortRail Freight

Fresh food link between Middle East and Europe

The original of this article “Fresh Food Corridors” was published at Railvolution No. 2/16 (April 2016), republished in Rail Turkey with the special permission of Petr Kaderavek, editor of Railvolution.

Fresh Food Corridors (FFC) is a project being financed by the EU through its Connecting Europe strategy, whose objective is to test and enhance a sustainable intermodal transport and logistics system for freight movements between the Mediterranean and northern Europe using rail and sea. The aim is to move dry and reefer containers from their origin by inland transport modes (rail or road) to certain gateway ports, then by sea on scheduled services between non-EU ports in Israel to Venezia, Marseille-Fos and Koper, and then onwards by dedicated rail services to logistics centers in the north, such as Rotterdam.

Final distribution would be by road, sea or inland waterway. Another corridor route between Cyprus and Egypt is also being considered. The whole distribution system is computer-co-ordinated. Links between La Spezia and non-EU ports are also being considered. The project is being co-ordinated by the Koper port authority, with 20 partners involved and their costs of the project start-up pilot phase co-financed up to 50%, with the total budget of the consortium being 21.5 million EUR.

The first FFC train ran in early March 2016*. The 35 reefer containers for the first FFC service, with consignments of oranges, potatoes, mandarins and grapefruit, produced by some major Israeli exporters, were embarked in Israel on 1 March, the vessel sailed the following day and arrived at the container terminal in Koper on 5 March 2016. Departure of the Rotterdam-bound train was at 00:30 on the 6th, and arrival in the Dutch port was on the 7th. Local clients in Rosenborg took delivery of their containers on the 8th, while the remainder of the containers were re-embarked on coastel ships bound for Oslo and Helsinki.

The service is considerably faster by six days, than sending containers direct by sea from Israel to northern Europe. Over the coming months endeavours will be made to shorten the journey time by rail, and provide return loadings. Pilot services via Venezia and Marseille-Fos are also planned.

*The second train was also done in April as well. Click for details.

Co-author: Luka Koper ©
Cover Photo: Marseilles Port ©


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