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Landslide Causes Extended Rail Disruption Between France and Italy

Landslide Causes Extended Rail Disruption Between France and Italy
photo: Clement Beaune; Twitter/Landslide Causes Extended Rail Disruption Between France and Italy
05 / 10 / 2023

The railway line between Chambéry and Turin, crucial for transit between France and Italy, now finds itself facing an extended closure until next summer following a devastating landslide on 27 August. This disruption to the Frejus Railway, the primary artery for rail freight between the nations, severely impacts Italy's logistical landscape.

The event took place in Saint-André à La Praz, a mere 20 kilometres from the French-Italian border. Adding to Italy's woes, its access to the rest of Europe via the Gotthard Base Tunnel has also been hampered due to an unrelated derailment in August.

The scale of the problem stretches beyond this single railway. Despite the reopening of the A43 highway post-landslide, the rail freight void is substantial and cannot be easily addressed by road transport alone. Efforts to mitigate the impact are ongoing; for instance, Captrain, a leading rail freight entity for Italy-France traffic, has diverted eight of its weekly trains through the Ventimiglia-Menton border crossing. Furthermore, it plans to reroute some intermodal services via Domodossola and Simplon between Italy and Switzerland. However, Captrain operates 80 pairs of trains along the disrupted Frejus Railway, underscoring the challenge of finding suitable alternatives.

Recent weather disruptions have been a consistent thorn in the side of Italy's logistics industry. The Frejus Railway interruption isn't an isolated incident; the nation grappled with major floodings in May that halted operations for almost a week. August proved equally challenging, with Slovenia and Scandinavia battling flood-induced disruptions, and even beyond Europe, China and Russia faced logistical setbacks due to floods.