DB Cargo: faster rail freight connection between France and Barcelona

Karel Novak, Published on 24/01/2023
DB Cargo: faster rail freight connection between France and Barcelona

DB Cargo's Spanish subsidiary Transfesa made its first journey between the French city of Perpignan and the port of Barcelona with 100 % DB Cargo power and new locomotives.

The train went on the so-called UIC route at the beginning of this January. Longer and heavier trains can be transported to Barcelona via this route without changing axles than via the "classic route", on which the wagons have to be changed over to the Iberian broad gauge. This is because the tracks in Spain are built with a wider gauge than in most other European countries. This is noticeable in the transport time because the time-consuming craning or reaxing makes for a noticeably longer transport time. Also, not every freight wagon can be changed.

So the use of the UIC route results in faster transport times because the line from Perpignan through a railway tunnel under the Pyrenees and onto Barcelona is built in standard gauge. This means that Barcelona can be reached with conventional freight wagons without changing axles. The line also allows the production of longer trains than is possible on the Iberian broad gauge.

In addition, Transfesa has also now purchased new locomotives for this route, as its previous vehicle portfolio was designed for the Spanish broad gauge. The test phase and the first train journeys were operated by Transfesa, DB Cargo France, and DB Cargo's central service design. This also included exchanges with the Spanish and French supervisory authorities, as the Spanish train drivers have to cover a certain distance in France before being replaced by their French colleagues.

The new locomotives can operate both on the upgraded line between Barcelona and Perpignan and throughout France, which is, according to DB Cargo, important for its international rail freight transport with Spain. Transfesa's traction unit fleet is to be expanded for standard gauge in the coming years and the standard gauge is to be extended for goods trains within Spain via Tarragona as far south as Valencia. In addition, DB Cargo France and Transfesa are planning to extend the use of the locomotives to include journeys in France.



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