Econostrum | Economic News in the Mediterranean

Ro-ro traffic gets a boost in Marseille thanks to higher volume container flows

Written by Caroline Garcia, MARSEILLE on Friday, April 24th 2015 à 09:15 | Read 1173 times



Marseille is banking on container shipping to regain its position as the leading port in the Mediterranean. These investments will also benefit ro-ro services.

photo: F. André
photo: F. André
FRANCE. The Port of Marseille-Fos (Grand Port Maritime de Marseille in French) has made its priorities clear in a strategic plan for 2014-2018 presented to its Supervisory Board in November 2014. The port aims to strengthen its position as the Southern Port of Europe for long-distance container shipping. This has long been the port’s ambition and is becoming increasingly credible. But have ro-ro services been sidelined as a result?
Implementation of a mass transport network around the port will benefit all kinds of traffic,” says Fabienne Margail, Head of the port’s Hinterland Department. “The objective remains to diversify the services offered and improve access for shipowners. Ro-ro traffic will also benefit from this!

In fact, the outlook looks promising. Thanks to a sizeable land reserve and equipment to match, Marseille is a position to boost port traffic. Fos in the west harbour basin, around 40km from the city, will receive the majority of the investments in this area. There are also plans for the other basins in the centre of Marseille, which receives ro-ro traffic from the port, arriving from the Maghreb. 3.7 tonnes (Mt) flowed through the port in 2014, which is equivalent to 20% of total goods (17.7 Mt in 2014) and less than 5% of the port’s overall traffic (78.5 Mt).

The strategic plan essentially sets out three measures to ease the flow of ro-ro traffic. This is partly about creating synergies between the two harbours basins of Marseille and Fos. This measure will be implemented thanks to an inter-basin rail shuttle, which will be operational in May 2015. Railliner will offer a daily service for the transfer of containers and swap bodies. According to Fos-Marseille, “this means clients can benefit from the port’s maritime services and the mass rail and waterway system pre and post distribution.” The link will also be connected to the Clesud combined transport terminal in Miramas, the port’s logistics base.
Meanwhile, the Mourepiane combined transport terminal at the edge of Marseille Fos’ eastern basins will be designed to handle maritime container traffic and continental traffic from the Marseille region.

Finally, a rolling motorway service linking the eastern basins of the Port of Marseille to the freight line between Le Boulou and Bettembourg is also planned. The aim is to find a balance between trailer traffic and combined transport. According to the strategic plan: “This synergy is a vehicle for economic balance and a rise in services.” The project envisages four round trips per day, with some including rail motorway and combined transport. In 2013, 43,000 semi-trailers and over 16,000 swap bodies were transported using this method.
These upgrades offer alternatives to road-only solutions, which remain the primary mode of transport in this area of activity at the port.

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