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Rail from China is on the right lines

[ August 16, 2021   //   ]

DSV says that it is increasingly using rail between China and Europe and it is an increasingly attractive means of shipping.

The forwarder says it takes between 15 and 18 days for Chinese and Russian trains to transport containers from northern and central China to Europe.

While the golden age of railways in the 1800s might be long gone, rail is entering something of a renaissance on both a regional and global level. Many companies already ship their goods by trains running up, down and across Europe, the US and even across great landmasses like Russia and central Asia and now, between China and Europe. The distance involved is impressive, and so are the obstacles in travelling through some countries that have traditionally been hard to pass.

Nevertheless, the lines are now open, and the intercontinental land route is a viable way to transport FCL and LCL cargo. Rail freight is fast, reliable and the most eco-friendly alternative to air and sea, which is why many customers are coming on-board to take advantage of the reduced costs compared to air transport, with both freight time and prices expected to decrease even further as the market develops.

DSV Railway Solutions targets customers in the non-food, high-tech, automotive and textile segment, as rail will prove ideal for transporting large-volume, high-value goods, and time-critical shipments.

DSV senior director Ian Fryer commented, “We see an increasing demand for the rail freight product which grows year on year.  Rail freight transport was valued at US$247.39bn in 2020 and is forecast to increase by another 2% between 2021–26. Some 12,000 freight trains moved in 2020 between China and Europe, an increase of 66% on previous year.”

There are two main routes for freight trains, with a number of sub-routes. The southern route through Kazakhstan and southern Russia is most suited for freight to and from central China, for example the regions surrounding Chengdu, Chongqing and Zhengzhou. The northern route through Siberia is ideal for container transport for the northern regions around Beijing, Dalian, Suzhou and Shenyang. In Europe the most important terminals are Duisburg and Hamburg in Germany. There are weekly departures to China from both locations.

DSV says that compared to seaports, rail operators have much smaller depots so shippers need to give careful consideration to the transport to and from the depot as storage space is more limited. If the warehouse is close to the container depot, it can be advantageous to move the goods by road to the depot for transfer to containers there rather than renting an empty container to load at your premises.

Ian Fryer concluded: “Rail can be a reliable, fast and efficient alternative to existing methods of transport. You can also save money compared to air freight and see efficiencies for your stock costs compared to sea freight.”

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