"There is no long-term policy" in favor of rail freight

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Gilles Dansart, director of Mobilettre, site specializing in mobility, deplores speeches without acts of successive governments.

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The train of primeurs Perpignan-Rungis is suspended until November 1 announced Wednesday, July 17 the region Occitanie. SNCF was already threatening to close this daily freight line at the beginning of June. Since the beginning of the week, the train has been running empty while the goods are being transported by truck. "The problem is that there is no long-term policy to economically favor this mode of transport", reacted Thursday on franceinfo Gilles Dansart, director of Mobilettre, site specializes in mobility. "We could have anticipated [the work of upgrading cars] well before, have a reinvestment program and involve other actors than fruits and vegetables to save this line", he added.

franceinfo: Is this suspension of the primeur train the symbol of rail failure?

Gilles Dansart: Yes, it is the symbol of 40 years during which the slogans replaced the acts for rail freight. All governments, without exception, have always called for rail freight and trucks on trains to reduce the number of trucks on the roads, but behind the scenes nothing was being done. The rail freight market share continued to fall to below 10%. The problem is that there is no long-term policy to economically favor this mode of transport. The main competitor of rail freight is the road and for the actors to put their goods on the train they must be encouraged. On a certain number of routes, the train is competitive, especially what has been called rail highways, ie trains that run very regularly and take goods from one end of the train to the other. France. These rail highways really benefit from a policy and encouragement. From an environmental point of view, obviously it's more interesting: it does not release or very little CO2. These highways must be encouraged.

The Minister of Transport, Elisabeth Borne, became Minister of Ecology has decided to suspend this line until November 1, the time to find an economically viable solution. Is it a disguised burial?

The problem is that it is difficult to force private actors to put goods if they consider that it is more expensive or if they consider that the SNCF does not facilitate things. It's not a game between the state and the shippers. It is a complicated game with three or even four players: there is the SNCF which is the carrier, but there is also the SNCF with its infrastructures. There is also the problem of under-investment in cars. Here we pay again for decades of approximation.

Is there a problem of reliability in this market?

On these destinations, the problem for a few years, and it will last a few more years, it is rather the work. There is a lot of work to do because we let the track deteriorate so there may be some irregularities. There is also the problem of under-investment of the wagon: we can not say to actors that we stop in a month because the wagons are no longer up to standard. We could have anticipated it well before and have reinvestment programming and involve other actors than fruits and vegetables to save this line.

According to opponents of the closure of this line, 25,000 trucks will be launched on the roads if this line stops. Is it true ?

We are not far from that. These are large volumes since Rungis is one of the largest European food markets. The number of trucks is huge but what is shocking is that the line is regular and crosses a large part of France. Other commodities could be found, but it also means commercial strength, willingness and strong encouragement. The local community, the Occitanie region, is starting to do its job to beg a state that finally sees things only from a financial angle: Bercy considers that it should be rationalized and that if there are trucks too bad . This conception of the state must change in favor of a more environmental vision of things.

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