Maersk is launching a new rail product that will carry temperature-sensitive cargo such as fruit and vegetables from Spain to the UK.
After successful trials in September, regular train departures will start at the end of October, just in time for the Spanish peak season for fruit and vegetable exports. During this period, approximately 1,400 trucks a day travel to main markets in the UK, France, Benelux, Germany, and Scandinavia.
Trains carrying Spanish fresh produce will run from the Valencia terminal to the Barking terminal in East London via the Channel. With sustainability in mind, trains will also carry non-refrigerated cargo on their return journey from the UK back to Spain.
"Big customers – importers, growers and retailers alike – are operating with both, ocean and land-based cargo flows. By offering them our reliable landside distribution network via rail we will help to create faster, greener and more efficient routes regardless of the origin and destination of the sensitive cargo,” said Diego Perdones Montero, Area Managing Director France, Iberia and Maghreb.
Perdones Montera emphasized that the new product solves several problems that customers in Spain face when exporting refrigerated trucks. The problem for large retailers is that they want to reduce the carbon footprint of the products they sell. Spain is also currently facing a shortage of truck drivers, which means that cross-border road transport is often limited and unreliable. The capacity and quality of main roads are also complicated which leads to congestion. Thanks to rail transport, Spanish exporters are independent of driver shortages and road bottlenecks, and moreover, CO2 emissions are reduced by more than 90% compared to road transport. This service could then be extended to other destinations in the future, including integrated maritime and rail solutions. We could see more such trains running through France to the Benelux, Germany, and as far north as Scandinavia.