David Aloia, vice president landbridge China of Hupac: improvements required facing the challenges of the new era of Eurasian rail transport
David Aloia (Photo: Hupac)

Since the launch of the first Yuxinou-train, the development of the Eurasian rail container transport industry has gone through 10 years. In the past years, which role have the international logistics service providers played? How do they view the future development potential of the China-Europe freight train? David Aloia, Head of Shuttle Net North-East Europe, Vice President Landbridge China of Hupac Intermodal SA, shared his opinions with New Silkroad Discovery.

More and more traffic between Europe and Asia will be moved by rail

Hupac has stared years ago with the business, routing via Russia, then in 2016 Hupac placed its own office in Shanghai. Since then Hupac has moved thousand of containers, and also some block trains from its main hub in Busto Arsizio (Italy) and also from Xian to Warsaw (Poland), said David Aloia.

“We established in 1967 and now have become one of the leading intermodal rail operator in Europe. With more than 50 years of experience, from north to south Europe, it was natural to move forward also from East to West.” David Aloia is proud of that there is rail lines of Hupac everywhere in Europe, Russia and Southeast Asia, with its own equipment, wagons, and terminals. “The Hupac’s long eye, has been always focused to find new routes and rail where to move its own assets”, he added.

He is confident that more and more the intercontinental traffic between Europe and Asia will be moved by rail. However, there are still obstacles to be overcome. “Bureaucracy, old fashion way of working, level of subsidies, must be improved facing the challenges of the new era of transport. Said that also from the railways, especially the Chinese side, there must be a new attitude and trust about the European model of transport, which with its rules, made this modality of transport safe, economic and environmentally friendly, even for the movement of dangerous goods”, said the Manager of Hupac.

Dangerous goods on the New Silk Road?

Indeed there are already many European operators calling for dangerous goods transport from/to China.  David Aloia said: “We are working very hard in this business investing money and people. As Hupac we can start tomorrow, because our skill in moving dangerous goods are high professional. 20% of our trains run with dangerous goods and in more than 50 years of experience, we never had a major accident.”

“The problem is the accuracy of the shipment, and the proper care, and this is a very big failure in some system, but we can put whenever China Railways wants our expertise on it”, mentioned David Aloia.

The problem of the subsidies

On the other hand, there are voices in China saying that the governments want to cut the subsidies. To make the price higher, to choose more high-valued products for the rail and keep the system more healthy, for example less congestion in China/Kazakhstan and Poland/Beralus.

According to David Aloia, the problem of the “helicopter subsidies” is the key point. If the subsidy are given to the right selected parties, the possibility to enlarge the volume will be amplified. “Of course the market is looking to this opportunity very well, and if the train will become a niche market, the situation in the long period could create some problem, in terms of growing of the market.”

He underlines the fact that the subsidies can be reduced, but this policy must be accompany with other solutions to let the market grow 360′. “It takes a while to lose a customer, and if we reduce the number of stalls, the growing opportunities, will be reduced dramatically.”