AS part of its France Relance plan to relaunch the economy post-Covid, the French government is currently tendering three freight services.

The first is an Autoroute Ferroviaire piggyback service carrying semi-trailers between Calais and the port of Sète on the Mediterranean coast. The service is designed to take 20,000 lorries off French roads and must be launched during 2022. Financial aid will be available for the launch if required.

Also out to tender is a service designed to carry fresh fruit and vegetables from Perpignan to the Paris area wholesale market at Rungis. This will restore a long-standing service withdrawn by Fret SNCF in summer 2019. In addition to Fret SNCF, one of the bidders for this contract is ESIFER, a small operator which is part of Thierry Torti Holding, which started life supplying trains for track renewal and has branched out into freight operation.

The third tender underway is for an Autoroute Ferroviaire service between Cherbourg and Bayonne. This service started life in 2018 as a proposal by Brittany Ferries in order to link its ferry services Ireland-Cherbourg and Bayonne-Spain. The proposal was later taken up by central government as part of its post-Covid economic relaunch plan.