Photos credit (banner): VIIA

Rail motorway offers eco-friendly freight transport

A new rail motorway linking Calais with Turin has been open since November 2018. With target capacity of 31,000 trucks annually, the service will relieve road congestion and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

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Up to two daily return journeys

On 6 November 2018, French officials inaugurated a fourth rail motorway in the port city of Calais. Guests included Élisabeth Borne, French Transport Minister; Guillaume Pepy, SNCF Group Executive Board Chairman; Sylvie Charles, CEO of TFMM (SNCF Logistics’ rail and multimodal freight subsidiary); and Thierry Le Guilloux, Chairman of our subsidiary VIIA.

The wagons operating on this 1,150-km rail infrastructure will carry trailers exclusively, delivering around 40 vehicles in 18 hours.

Initially VIIA will run three return journeys a week between the French port and the Piedmont capital, but ultimately the line should offer two return journeys a day. It also connects to the UK via ferry.

Video : Lancement de l'autoroute ferroviaire Calais-Turin Orbassano

A win for the planet

The Calais-Turin rail motorway offers undeniable benefits for the environment: each truck carried by rail prevents 1.2 metric tons of CO2 from being released into the atmosphere, saving 37,200 tons of CO2 annually.

And transferring a portion of road traffic to rail serves France’s policy of reducing transport-related greenhouse gas emissions, adopted in 2009 under the country’s Grenelle Act.

VIIA’s mission

VIIA’s rail motorway services allow road hauliers to load their freight directly onto wagons designed to carry any semi-trailer up to 30 metric tons. And because the vehicles simply roll onto the wagons, there’s no need for costly specialized equipment.

Key benefits of the rail motorway system include avoiding natural obstacles and reducing truck traffic on saturated roads.

In 2017, VIIA carried a total of 106,747 semi-trailers, swap bodies and containers, saving 75,000 metric tons of CO2 emissions.


+37,200 metric tons of CO² saved annually

Three lines already in service

VIIA already operates three additional rail motorways in France:

  • Aiton (Chambéry) – Orbassano (Turin)
  • Le Boulou (Perpignan) – Bettembourg (in Luxembourg)
  • Calais – Perpignan