As China-Europe rail freight celebrates 50,000 trips, more freight forwarders have launched services amid improved transit times.
The railway network transporting goods to Europe started operating from Chongqing in March 2011, according to the China State Railway Group.
The milestone of the trip was equivalent to 4.55 million teu, he said, with an estimated cargo value of $240 billion.
Although tiny compared to ocean freight, rail volumes have grown rapidly in recent years, with last year alone accounting for 15,000 trips, a 22% year-on-year increase.
Rail freight is widely credited with providing a vital land connection between Asia and Europe throughout the Covid crisis, as traditional air and sea freight routes have experienced unprecedented disruption.
However, the railways have also experienced their fair share of delays, having been hit by growing congestion at major border crossing points in Poland, Russia and Kazakhstan, leading to deteriorating transit times, despite delays. record freight rates.
Nonetheless, freight forwarders seem confident of adding new services and have reported improved transit times this year.
For example, Chengdu-based New Silk Road Intermodal (NSRI) noted, “After years of market cultivation, China-Europe trains have achieved normal operations, and capacity expansion and reconstruction projects in Khorgos, Alashankou, Erenhot, Manzhouli and other port stations have been successively implemented.
This has helped improve operations, NSRI added, with westbound trains enjoying higher on-time departure rates than in previous weeks.
“Alashankou-Khorgos is performing well, with average delays of less than a day, while Mala and Kaliningrad transshipment efficiency has also improved slightly this week,” the freight forwarder explained.
Additionally, Davies Turner, who launched a weekly Express China rail freight service to the UK in 2018, noted that the railway’s operations were “getting back on track” after “a difficult 2021”.
Tony Cole, Head of Oceans at Davies Turner, said: “Over the past month we have seen an improvement in rail transit times thanks to faster departures from China. Based on arrivals in the UK over the past four weeks, the dedicated rail service achieves an average transit time of 29 days from departure in Wuhan to arrival at our UK depots.
Hellmann Worldwide Logistics, on the other hand, said its new service between Chongqing and Bremen would alleviate some of the lingering congestion on popular routes to Duisburg and Hamburg. COO Jens Wollesen said, “Due to the challenges facing sea and air freight, transport on the New Silk Road is increasingly in demand, resulting in bottlenecks. With the expansion of our transcontinental network, we are easing the pressure on the roads.