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Pre and Post-Loading Transportation

For the port’s activities to run smoothly, they require an optimised system of goods transportation, with a top-quality infrastructure for all interconnecting transport options: roads, river and rail.
Atlantic Port of Bordeaux continues to invest year after year in the port’s rail and river connections, forming partnerships with RFF (French Railways Network) and VNF (French River Transport Agency) to develop intermodality


Atlantic Port of Bordeaux’s rail transportation network serves all of the port’s terminals, and is concentrated on two main sites: Bassens and Le Verdon. The facilities can accept Category D loads (22.5 tonnes per axle) in Le Verdon terminal and Cat C2C (20 tonnes per axle) in Bassens. Le Verdon is linked directly to the Bruges logistics platform (in close proximity to Bordeaux).

While rail traffic has slowed somewhat in recent years, this change is in line with national trends and can be attributed to any number of factors which have pushed operators towards road transport.
The opening up of the rail service to competition between operators, and the near-total saturation of the road network, have sparked renewed interest in rail transportation services. Rail activity at Atlantic Port of Bordeaux grew by almost 40% in the 3 years to 2010, up from 273,070 tonnes to 381,533.


More environmentally friendly than road transportation, river transit is one of Atlantic Port of Bordeaux’s key development priorities, alongside the rail system.

The level of river transportation in Aquitaine is fairly low, due to the difficulties inherent in navigating the region’s waterways. With the exception of the Gironde estuary and the section of the Garonne between Ambès and Langon, the river network is not capable of handling large vessels. The canal linking Bordeaux and Toulouse is punctuated by a series of locks, all Freycinet gauge.
These restrictions notwithstanding, in recent years considerable effort has been made to develop water-borne transportation around Bordeaux’s maritime port: in 2010, 108,717 tonnes of merchandise were transported by river or canal, accounting for 1.4% of all pre and post-loading transportation. This form of transportation is used for four main purposes:

  • Transporting cereals from the islands in the estuary to Blaye (2,250T)
  • Transporting vegetable oils from Bassens to Lesieur Bacalan (49,038T)
  • Transporting Airbus components from Pauillac to Langon (13,309 t)
  • Transporting biofuels from Bassens to Ambès (44,120 t)


Prized for the great flexibility it offers, road transportation accounts for the vast majority of pre and post-loading transportation to and from Atlantic Port of Bordeaux (90 %).

The port authorities work closely with all interested parties to improve the quality of the road transport system year on year, always seeking to enhance performance: improving access to the Bassens site is a key priority for the near future.
Moreover, in order to improve parking facilities for HGVs and provide a better service to drivers, Atlantic Port of Bordeaux is working in partnership with the Bordeaux Urban Community and the Bassens town council to expand and refurbish the dedicated HGV parking lot (in the ‘Bassens Triangle’), which should also help cut down on waiting times.