Since 2007, a train of refrigerated vans arrives every night at Rungis fresh food wholesale market (*) near Paris Orly airport. The train carries 1,000 - 1,400 tons of fruit and vegetables loaded at Perpignan in the Pyrénées Orientales. In 2010, a modernisation of the rail terminus at Rungis was carried out at a cost of 21 million euros.
This express freight is operated by SNCF for the account of a local transport firm. There are short term contracts of 12 or 24 months. Currently 82 refrigerated vans are leased and they are now 40 years old. The train is operated at 140 kph with a Sybic loco. The schedule is for a departure from Perpignan at 16.37 and arrival at Rungis (MIN)** at 02.51 (via Narbonne, Toulouse, Bordeaux, St Pierre des Corps, Les Aubrais, Juvisy). The return journey departs from Rungis at 20.48 and it arrives at Perpignan at 09.03. (Schedules of May 14th/15th).
This express rail freight service carries 400,000 tons of fresh produce a year and replaces 25,000 lorries annually on the motorways of France and the congested roads around Orly airport.
In May 2019, a flurry of news stories swept through French media that reported a serious risk that the Perpignan - Rungis train would cease to run at the end of June 2019 and would have to be replaced by road transport, another ecological disaster looming. The problem has been known for over a year. SNCF proposes to lease new refrigerated wagons, but no agreement has been reached with the local transport company which cannot afford the increased prices of
the new contract.
As the deadline approaches, many parties are scurrying around looking for solutions. Rungis (MIN) has offered 300,000 euros as a temporary subsidy to allow the train to continue for another year or two with the old wagons while a solution is found.
* Rungis fresh food wholesale market near Paris is the largest in the world. 1.7 million tons of produce are brought to the market annually. Every night 13,000 people work on the site and 26,000 vehicles enter and leave the market. Rungis supplies fresh food to 18 million consumers.
** Marché d'intérêt National
Above - The empty Rungis - Perpignan express freight train between Carcassonne and Narbonne on 26th Sept 2018 at 10.10 am near Conilhac-Corbières. Photo: Pierre Colson