High-speed rail freight to London
3/21/12 2:53 PM
The arrival of an SNCF TGV freight train at St Pancras today [March 21st] marked the launch of high-speed, electrically-powered rail freight services between London and mainland Europe.
The arrival was the culmination of a five-year plan for promoting freight on the high-speed rail route, HS1, and has led to the start of a new rail freight service between London and Poland, with more to follow.
A fleet of TGVs (trains á grande vitesse – high-speed trains) has been in operation in France since 1984, operating at speeds of up to 270kph.
While the TGVs would be too large for normal UK rail lines, the opening of HS1 enables them to be operated right through to London.
Proposals by Euro Carex for a new fleet of high-speed freight trains will shrink journey times for time-sensitive, high-value and perishable products, including mail and parcels, internet shopping and fresh produce.
A package sent from London could be in Paris or Brussels within three hours; fruit and vegetables picked in Southern France in the morning could be delivered into East London in the evening, ready for the shelves the following day – a 50% reduction in surface transit times by road.
Nick Gallop, MD of rail freight consultant Intermodality, said: “While such services will be a niche product in the freight market, we estimate these trains could generate demand for up to half a dozen services a day to and from the London area, with the prospect of extending services along HS2, if suitable links with HS1 can be provided.
“The UK is once more playing catch-up, as the TGV train in London today has been in operation on French high-speed lines for nearly thirty years without incident.”
But he added: “Now that UK companies have a taste of the potential, we look forward to the start of similar regular services from the London area in the coming years.”