10 January 2012
Intermodal transport: SNCF Geodis runs first train with a length of 850 m
On 19 and 20 December 2011, SNCF Geodis operated an intermodal train measuring 850 meters in length on the 1054 km long line between the Spanish border near Perpignan (Le Boulou) and Luxembourg (Bettembourg). Journey time was 15 hours.
This large-capacity intermodal train carried 2,400 tonnes of freight and is made up of 24 double-sided wagons able to carry 48 semi-trailers. This reflects a capacity increase of over 33% compared to previous intermodal trains. The train was hauled by two Fret SNCF electric locomotives positioned at the head of the train consisting of so-called “Modalohr” wagons.
Lorry Rail, which markets this Luxembourg/Perpignan “Rolling Road” service, has increased considerably the annual volume of semi-trailers and containers carried since the opening of services in 2008 to reach almost 50,000 units in 2011. As of January 2012, services will be extended to four daily return journeys along this corridor. It is expected that by 2014 the performance of such trains could be further increased to reach a length of 1050 meters and a capacity of 3,000 tonnes.
These new intermodal transport services exceed considerably the minimum performance benchmarks for intermodal trains set out in the AGTC Agreement of 1991:
AGTC Minimum Standard
Nominal minimum speed
Length of train
Weight of train
Axle load (wagons)
1 200 tonnes
1 500 tonnes
20 tonnes (22.5 tonnes at 100 km/h)
The UNECE Working Party on Intermodal Transport and Logistics (WP.24) is currently reviewing the international AGTC benchmarks to adapt them to modern requirements. Information on the present infrastructure and performance standards applicable on the total AGTC network at the pan-European level is available at: apps.unece.org/WP24.
Note: The European Agreement on Important International Combined Transport Lines and Related Installations (AGTC) is a pan-European treaty administered by UNECE and has 32 Contracting States from Portugal to Kazakhstan and Denmark to Turkey. AGTC provides a legal framework in line with relevant EU regulations and prescribes minimum infrastructure and performance standards for international road/rail intermodal transport services. It lays down a coordinated plan for the development of intermodal transport in a wider European context that is necessary for efficient and competitive operations based on internationally agreed performance benchmarks. For more details see here about AGTC Text of Agreement.