Calais truck ‘buffer’ zone hailed outstanding success

The 'smart' and more secure reception zone for trucks at Calais, designed to facilitate their transit through the French Channel port, has been hailed an outstanding success by Port Boulogne-Calais Authority (SEPD) chief, Jean-Marc Puissesseau, a year on from its opening.

"We have reduced waiting times for drivers and succeeded in maintaining the free flow of traffic. Today, there are no longer trucks waiting on the motorway to get into the port. This parking area is fulfilling its role perfectly and one wonders why we didn't do it before," he said.

The truck 'buffer' zone uses an automated signalling system, backed up by CCTV provision and security fencing.

Earlier this year, Calais posted its best-ever quarter for cross-Channel freight with a total of 507,850 HGVs transiting the French port during the first three months of 2017, an increase of 11.2% on the same period in 2016. Detailed figures for the first half the year have yet to be released, but SEPD estimates that truck traffic rose by around 6% year on year.

Separately, Calais city hall has terminated its partnership with property developer DCB International for a 160-hectare logistics park scheme bordering the A16 motorway leading to the port. Calais Premier, first mooted in 2012, made provision for 220,000m2 of logistics facilities.

Calais mayor, Nathalie Bouchart, said the council would from now on be managing the development of the site on its own and that expressions of interest had been received from other potential investors.

She also confirmed that the project of German intermodal specialist Cargobeamer combined road-rail cargo terminal would be located at the site.

In November last year, the company was awarded a regional public authority grant of €2m towards the project which focuses on transporting  unaccompanied trailers between Calais and Leipzig - and beyond.

However, a date for the commencement of construction work has yet to be announced.