Hervé Morin, Chairman of the Ports of Normandy and Chairman of Normandy Council, has officially launched the construction work to build the multimodal terminal in the Port of Cherbourg. This investment is part of a vast rail-road transport scheme which, once completed, will connect the south-west of France to Great Britain and Ireland through Cherbourg-en-Cotentin. The latter portion is managed by Brittany Ferries and Ports of Normandy, and aims to significantly enlarge the Port of Cherbourg’s catchment area.
In 2022 the cross-Channel business amounted to about five million heavy goods vehicles arriving in France (Channel Tunnel traffic included). This business has been enjoying steady growth over the last decade (+25%). In addition to this structural growth, the freight ferry business is changing and new challenges relating to environmental issues, Brexit and the increasing size of vessels are emerging. Together, all these factors are tending to lead to less reliance on “road-only” solutions, and the emergence of unaccompanied loads and massive alternative land transport.
Consequently, Ports of Normandy has set itself five strategic goals:
- Accommodate larger vessels
- Consolidate and enlarge its catchment area
- Rise to the challenges of Brexit and the EES border controls
- Make possible a new and competitive land transport service that is both an alternative and complementary to road transport.
- Contribute to providing more environmentally friendly transport
In 2020 Ports of Normandy called for expressions of interest (AMI) for the purpose of designating the users of the multimodal terminal in the Port of Cherbourg, the only cross-Channel terminal west of the Dover Strait that can be easily connected to the rail network. Brittany Ferries replied with a proposal involving a rail service between Cherbourg and Bayonne.
Through this service, Brittany Ferries aims to:
- Bolster its productivity by reducing the number of tractor units shipped (optimise weight and volume carried) in order to increase the number of unaccompanied vehicles (trailers) carried across the entire maritime freight business.
- Improve the environmental performance of shipping
- Consolidate its position on long routes between Spain and the British Isles, and diversify its maritime services to include rail transport
This rail-transport project is part of a much larger strategy that is being developed by Brittany Ferries, and which includes the renewal of its fleet and the adoption of ever more eco-friendly propulsion systems. Brittany Ferries is now making an extra three rotations to Cherbourg with its new vessels – Galicia, Salamanca, Santona – as part of its strategy to increase its freight business. The Cherbourg rolling road project and its multimodal terminal complement this consolidation of the Roscoff-based operator’s services.
Brittany Ferries’ proposal is based on the LOHR system which:
- Makes the trailers compatible with railway tunnels, a major constraint in France and the Iberian Peninsula
- Enables the loading of trailers that cannot be lifted, which accounts for the majority of road trailers
- Implements a competitive logistics system which makes loading operations simpler, quicker and safer
- Makes possible connections to other French and European terminals (Sète, Marseilles, Italy…)
For Brittany Ferries, this project requires the creation of a rail terminal in Mouguerre (in the urban area of Bayonne) and a 950km rail route between Mouguerre and Cherbourg, as well as a daily return service with a carrying capacity of 42 trailers each way.
Construction of the multimodal terminal
After holding a public consultation in April 2020 and successfully rerouting the Boulevard Maritime to free up the 2-hectare site required for the construction of the multimodal terminal, Ports of Normandy will launch the construction work on the terminal in September. The works have been carefully planned to ensure no traffic disruption. The terminal is expected to enter service in September 2024.
An industrial grouping comprising OFFROY (Groupe NGE), NGE GC (Groupe NGE) and DNA CONSULT will undertake the construction work on behalf of Ports of Normandy in accordance with the following schedule:
- September 2023: work starts
- October 2023 to March 2024: civil engineering works on the terminal dock
- April 2024: construction of the facilities
- November 2023 to April 2024: railway construction work
- January 2024: construction of a building for inspecting the trailers
- February to May 2024: road construction work, the entry and exit flows having been entirely redesigned during the construction of the multimodal terminal in order to ensure that traffic moves freely
- July 2024: work ends
The line will open thereafter. After a period of gradually increasing the operating load, the line will be able to process about 20,000 trailers inbound or outbound through the Port of Cherbourg.
For Ports of Normandy, this project represents an investment of €13m, funded by Normandy Council (€1.7m), Manche Council (€850k), the Cotentin Urban Area (€285k) and self-funding (€8.7m). The European Union is also funding the project to the tune of €1.4m (included in the aforementioned €13m). As for Cherbourg Port, the investment amounts to €4m, bringing the total to just over €17m.
Hervé Morin, Chairman of Ports of Normandy, says: “Concerns for the environment, the increasing size of vessels and Brexit are all having a profound impact on cross-Channel traffic. Ports of Normandy and Brittany Ferries have decided to rise to the challenge of these issues by developing an alternative mode of transport. This ambitious project will ensure a greater catchment area for the Port of Cherbourg and thus allow it to pursue its development, without compromising the cross-Channel traffic passing through Dieppe and Ouistreham. Instead, it is offering an alternative and complementary solution that is environmentally friendly.”