German intermodal transport system provider, CargoBeamer, is conducting what it terms ‘extensive negotiations’ with carmakers and suppliers over the use of its trailer-loading solution, which will operate at the Calais Premier multimodal logistics project currently under construction at the Turquerie industrial park in France.

CargoBeamer provides an automated and parallel loading/unloading system for non-modified semi-trailers between rail and road. The company said that 98% of non-craneable trailers could be loaded on a train within 15 minutes. It will also allow a change of railway gauge, easing transport between countries.

The company has established a partnership with DCB International, property developers at the Calais Premier park, which aims to be the main gateway for the shipping of goods between France, northern Europe and the UK. The park, located 5km from the port of Calais, is expected to double the size and productivity of the port by 2015. It will bring in up to €300m of investment from companies in the logistics, distribution and automotive manufacturing sectors.

“We have chosen to base our facility at Calais Premier as it is strategically an important location, close to the UK/Northern France and the extensive European rail network,” said Michael Baier, marketing, sales and finance director at CargoBeamer.

At the moment about 4,000 semi-trailers move through Calais on a daily basis with plenty of scope for increase as the market continues to grow. CargoBeamer said it plans to move trailers onto trains in Calais and take a lot of traffic off European roads. Baier said that planned savings for customers in the midterm could be more than between 5-10% of the comparable road transport costs. Emissions could be reduced by around 67%.

“We will start with one train set per week in 2014 and target on more than five trains per day,” Baier told Automotive Logistics. “Each train has 32 wagons. They will run in east/west direction via the Dortmund area, Leipzig to Poland, Czech Republic, Lithuania to Russia with links to Italy, Switzerland, Austria and the Balkan states.”

Baier explained that the switch from the standard to broad gauge to destinations including Russia will take place in Moskawa, a small city in Lithuania near the Polish border.

“The first three modules there will be finished next year,” he said. “Here we will demonstrate that the switching from standard to broad gauge of a complete train with 36 wagons is possible using CargoBeamer technology.”

Baier went on to say that this switch will be fully automated and possible within one hour instead of two or three days.

Carmakers are now looking intently at more intermodal solutions. Ford and Toyota are just two major carmakers that have said such solutions are key to their future logistics business model in Europe and they are looking at mid-term projects to shift transport of parts and vehicles from road to rail (read more here).

CargoBeamer’s goal is to have 75 of their CargoGates in Europe by 2020, creating a network of all freight centres across wider Europe.