Information published on 30 March 2009 in the UIC electronic newsletter "UIC eNews" Nr 137.

Spain / Portugal. RENFE and CP launch a regular freight service

CP and RENFE, the two largest rail operators in the Iberian Peninsula, have set up a regular rail transport service from the main Portuguese ports of Lisbon, Leixões and Sines to Spain, with three trains a week each way. The service has been named IBERIAN LINK and is the first joint service that has been launched as part of a wide ranging cooperation agreement that has been set up between the two companies.

The new service is a viable and efficient alternative to road freight within the Iberian Peninsula, connecting the three largest Portuguese ports to Madrid and other Spanish cities.Freight from the ports of Lisbon, Leixões and Sines is delivered to the Madrid Freight hub the next day and then to the other Spanish cities of Saragossa, Tarragona, Barcelona e Valencia, 24 hours after that.

The service also covers the transport of hazardous goods and products. IBERIAN LINK will be able to haul over 14,000 TEUs (Twenty-foot containers) a year but, if demand grows, the service can be run on a daily basis and will then be able to increase these numbers to 24,000 TEUs.The medium term plans for the two Iberian operators is to expand the range of IBERIAN LINK to markets north of the Pyrenees such as France and Germany. Estimated turnover should reach 1 million euros in the first year of operations (nine months) with an annual growth rate of 30% over the next two years.

Environmental gains

IBERIAN LINK’s annual capacity of 14,000 TEUs will take 7,200 trucks off the roads with all the related environmental gains.A recent study by CP shows that rail freight transport between Lisbon and Oporto got 352 thousand trucks off the roads in 2008 alone.The use of rail transport meant that 9.2 million tonnes of CO2, worth 138.5 million euros according to the European carbon market quotations, were not pumped into the atmosphere.

Every signatory to the Kyoto Protocol has to reduce their CO2 emissions. The countries will have to set up a carbon exchange by 2016 to manage the supply and demand of emissions based on the standards that are defined. The use of more environmentally friendly modes of transport will substantially cut CO2 emissions and help prepare the country to meet its Kyoto targets and increase the quotas that Portugal can sell abroad.

Environmental preservation is becoming an ever more decisive factor in consumer choice for individuals and companies and this is a competitive edge for rail operators over their roadway counterparts.