A direct intermodal service connecting Barking in east London with Cologne is due to be introduced in September, initially operating three times a week. 

The service is being launched by TX Logistik, part of Italian State Railways' (FS) freight company Mercitalia, and Ecco Sped, working with other partners that include Eurotunnel. 

The service will be able to carry semitrailers using the NiKrasa system, which allows non-craneable semitrailers to be loaded onto pocket wagons without the need to adapt wagons, trailers or terminal facilities. 

According to TX Logistik, 90% of road semitrailers cannot be lifted using cranes. 

The lorry drives onto the platform and sets the trailer down in the centre of the platform.

The semitrailer is loaded into a NiKrasa tub using a reach stacker, which can then load the tub and trailer on the pocket wagon. 

The terminal platform remains at the loading point, while the transport platform goes with the semitrailer on the train.

TX Logistik uses the system on intermodal services from Herne in Germany to Verona and is keen to provide a connection to Britain for its route from Italy to Cologne. 

The new service will be operated by DB Cargo UK from Barking to Calais via HS1 and the Channel tunnel, and from Calais to Cologne by Lineas.