OOCL has launched a rail-sea service from Xi’an, China to the US east coast
Xi’an International Land Port

OOCL has launched a rail-sea service from China to the US east coast, which it claims is a first. The departure of the first dedicated train carrying containers for US shippers took place from the Xian rail hub last week.

The joint-venture between the Hong Kong-headquartered carrier and its forwarding arm, OOCL Logistics, will use the Chang An block-train service from Xian to Kaliningrad, Russia, and a feeder vessel to Bremerhaven to connect with the carrier’s North Atlantic services to the US east coast.

“Connecting China and North America by using the Asia-Europe land bridge and the Atlantic ocean is the first service of its kind to be operated by an ocean carrier,” claimed OOCL.

“The intention is to provide reliable and timely shipments by seizing the opportunity to avoid the current high levels of traffic seen on routes to the west coast and through the Panama Canal,” it added.

Extra loaders deployed by ocean carriers between Asia and the US to meet high demand ahead of an expected exceptional peak season, has pushed the number of ships waiting for berths at Los Angeles and Long Beach back above 30. And with overwhelming congestion on inland rail services added to the mix, carriers are unable to charter additional ships due to the acute scarcity of open container tonnage on the market.

OOCL is a subsidiary of state-owned Cosco Shipping. In the second quarter, OOCL’s liftings declined by 1.5% on Q1, to 1,948,527 teu, although revenue increased by 15%, to $3.47bn, for an average rate of $1,779 per teu.