Costing in the region of €400m ($523.5m), the project, which is backed by the Nord-Pas-de-Calais Regional Council, will double the size and capacity of the port.
The development is part of a major regeneration programme for the region, which will include a new logistics park, offering 220,000 sq m of warehousing and 11,000 sq m of office space. Additionally there will be a 160 ha leisure development around the exit of the Channel Tunnel.
Calais is France’s fourth busiest port in terms of traffic, handling 36m tonnes of cargo last year, behind Marseille Fos, Le Havre and Dunkirk; it is the busiest passenger port in Europe seeing almost 10m passengers and 1.8m cars last year.
Antoine Ravisse, from the Calais Chamber of Commerce, speaking at a London press conference in April was careful to play down the impact the development could have on relations with UK ports, stressing that Calais should be seen as “another British port.”
“We have never seen British ports as our competitors,” he said. “Calais is not a container port and although we will be twice as big as we are [when the development is completed] we won’t be able to do everything.”
Ravisse and Didier Caudard-Breille, from DCB International, who are responsible for the logistics park, stressed the development’s “eco” credentials, emphasising the investment in railway infrastructure.
Most notable is the presence of German company CargoBeamer, whose automated transfer system for trailers between rail and road is set to be installed in 2014. This loads all the trailers in one go, rather than sequentially, meaning, the company says, that up to 25 trailers can be loaded or unloaded in as little as 10 minutes.