The first high-speed freight train between France and the UK arrived at St Pancras yesterday, in a trial run that could herald the future of European goods delivery.
The Euro Carex consortium dispatched a train from Lyon at 4.45pm on Tuesday, carrying the equivalent of 120 tonnes of parcels. After a stop to load more cargo at Paris Charles de Gaulle airport, then travelling via the Channel Tunnel, the train drew into St Pancras early yesterday morning.
Euro Carex said: "This test demonstrates the efficiency, speed and environmental benefits of an intermodal transportation system combining air containers and high-speed rail network."
The group is a consortium of European transport and infrastructure groups including Air France, Eurotunnel, the French-state owned train operator SNCF, High Speed One, and logistics companies including UPS-TNT, FedEx and La Poste. The only UK involvement is through British shareholders in the London-listed Eurotunnel.
"Euro Carex offers a potential solution to the continuous rise in fuel prices, road congestion and environmental constraints which limit the number of night flights," the company said.
Yanick Paternotte, a French MP and the chairman of Euro Carex, added: "Today's test over the European high speed rail network clearly shows the interest of strategic players in the logistics field – airports as well as rail operators –in linking their infrastructures to key European economic centres in order to benefit businesses and communities."