24th October 2009: There was a report in one of the Saturday newspapers today saying that the Rail Europe’s French Motorail service was to cease.
This was a great way for the motorist who wanted to take their car to France without driving long distances and clocking up a lot of mileage. You simply took the car ferry or Channel Tunnel to Calais and the car went on the train and you stayed in the passenger compartment of the train and it travelled through the night.
A message on the website says "The French Motorail service from Calais to the South of France will sadly not be running in Summer 2010. The impact of the current economic climate and significant increases in train running costs, partly due to unfavourable exchange rates, means the service would not be financially viable"
All is not lost, as you can still drive to Paris where the AutoTrain – put your car on the train service operates from.According to the website "Cars are taken overnight on train carriers, while you follow on, either during the day or night, on a separate train and collect your car when you get to your destination"
They still go to the south of France to thes following destinations.Avignon, Bordeaux, Brive, Fréjus/St Raphaël, Lyon, Marseille, Narbonne, Nice, Toulon and Toulouse.
What is most intersting is the fact that they don't appear to have an online booking system and prefer you to telephone and there is a £8 booking fee.
Train companies have had to move with times and I recall way back in the early 1970s taking a "Motorail" train from Fishguard in west Wales to Paddington, London. It was a hot summer's Sunday afternoon and after taking the car ferry from to Rosslare, Ireland this was meant to be an easy journey. The service was run by British Rail and because it was a Sunday there was no buffet car and a lot of maintenance work on the track. It seemed to take hours and would probably have been a lot faster to drive along the M4 motorway instead.
People will generally find it is cheaper to fly and hire a car these days, however as the newspaper article said, you can't bring a car load of cheap wine back from France by plane!
Maybe the solution is to fly and rent a car and take a day trip to France to stock up up on the cheaper drink, especially if you live in the south of England.