Rail services between China and Europe are growing fast, with the reliability, speed and cost looking increasingly attractive in the face of blanked container shipping services and very high air freight rates.
“The freight trains on the new Silk Road are well booked,” said Patrick Merkel, managing director of 4PL Prologue Solutions.
“Freight forwarders advise their customers to reserve capacities two weeks in advance.
“Rail transport between China and Hamburg currently takes only 18 days, instead of 32 or more by sea transport.”
Despite slightly increasing demand, the rates per container were relatively stable, added the company – on average, 50% cheaper than air freight.
And services are increasing. Yesterday, Russian Railways, SNCF Forwardis and Cosco Group launched a 20-day train service connecting Jiangxi with Paris.
Transloading occurs at the Dostyk/Alashankou (China/Kazakhstan) and Brest/Małaszewicze (Belarus/Poland) border crossings.
“One container train can deliver the equivalent of up to six planes of cargo, which ultimately increases the difference in transport costs up to thirty times,” noted the companies, which said they were also developing a high-speed container rail link.
Meanwhile last month, RZD Logistics began to test moving sanctioned goods from Europe to China via Zabaikalsk.
“The opening of a new route for the transport of sanctioned goods is a significant and fundamental milestone on the path of increasing the transit flow of goods from European countries in the eastern direction,” said Dmitry Murev, general director of RZD Logistics JSC.
“This was made possible thanks to the introduction of advanced technical innovations integrated into the transport technology of Russian Railways Holding and our partners.
“Without exaggeration, I think this is the result of the painstaking, systematic, and well-coordinated work of the team of RZD Logistics and our partners from the Center of Corporate Transportation Services of Russian Railways and Digital Platforms Development Center.
“In addition to the existing southern transit route through Kazakhstan, the northern route opens additional opportunities for our customers and partners.”
Container volumes on the China-Europe rail route have blossomed. April saw United Transport and Logistics Company – Eurasian Rail Alliance (UTLC ERA) move 41,200 teu, double last year’s volumes, in a record month.
“The crisis caused by the spread of coronavirus is a problem, but it’s also an opportunity for rail logistics,” said Alexey Grom, chief executive of UTLC ERA. “It is already obvious to many that the railway is not just an alternative, but is the main mode of cargo transport in conditions where high speed, clarity and stability are required.”