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BLS Cargo acquires Crossrail to strengthen north–south corridor

EUROPE: An agreement for BLS Cargo to acquire 100% of Belgian freight operator Crossrail from Rhenus for an undisclosed price was signed on March 5. The transaction is subject to regulatory approval and would be backdated to January 1.

Switzerland-based BLS Cargo said it would gain a stronger position on Belgium – Germany – Switzerland – Italy freight routes through the acquisition of Crossrail, which operates in Belgium and Germany and has 180 staff and a turnover of €70m.

BLS Cargo is owned by Swiss railway BLS (52%), SNCF Logistics (45%) and intermodal logistics group Ambrogio (3%). It generates around a third of its turnover from traffic flows starting or ending in Belgium, and has been working closely with Crossrail for two years, primarily on services running east of the River Rhein, with Crossrail providing traction in Germany and Belgium.

Rhenus said Crossrail could better achieve its potential as part of the integrated concept that BLS Cargo could provide, rather than within its own decentralised structure. The group would now focus on its holdings in other reginal rail operators.

BLS Cargo CEO Dirk Stahl said that ‘as a freight corridor service provider, Crossrail is very similar to BLS Cargo, in addition to which we are a perfect match geographically’. The acquisition means BLS Cargo ‘can further improve our position on the north–south corridor, whilst safeguarding and expanding the important link to Belgium and the ports of Antwerpen and Zeebrugge.’

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