UPS Rails Freight

In order to complement their air and ocean transport package, delivery giant UPS announced they are to introduce rail transport solutions across the Eurasian Land Bridge from China into Europe. The integrator thus follows the strategy which DHL, DB Schenker or Hellmann had initiated years ago.   

Beginning immediately, UPS containers will be railed across the Eurasian corridor.  /  Source:  YHF Logistics
Beginning immediately, UPS containers will be railed across the Eurasian corridor. / Source: YHF Logistics

Rail solutions between China and Europe were up to now a white spot within UPS’s product portfolio. With the now announced offering of full container loads (FCL) the U.S. package delivery firm is filling a gap. From now on, clients can chose between air, ocean and rail transports in case UPS is their preferred biz partner in transportation.


FCL are tailored solutions for moving different commodities in 20 or 40 ft containers to ensure efficient international door-to-door transport from a consignor to a consignee.
With running times of 16 days-plus all the way across the vast Eurasian corridor this transport option is significantly slower than air freight but considerably cheaper, costing estimated half the kilogram price clients would have to pay for having their goods airlifted. A UPS manager emphasized that the boxes are tracked electronically all the way from origin to final destination, making carriage through countries like Kazakhstan, Russia or Belarus quite secure.  


Customers that intend using the UPS rail offering can chose between two different routes: from Zhengzhou to Hamburg or Chengdu to Małaszewicz in Poland. According to UPS their rail product combines with the package delivery company’s existing European trucking network and is on average 70 percent cheaper to air freight, but considerably more expensive than ocean freight. 

DHL Global Forwarding uses the transcontinental rail option since long.  / Source: DHL
DHL Global Forwarding uses the transcontinental rail option since long. / Source: DHL

UPS is following a trend
With their new FCL China to Europe rail campaign UPS is jumping on a bandwagon others like DB Schenker or DHL had done years before.
For instance, DHL operates a daily cargo train from Shanghai to the Polish railway hub Malaszewicz in cooperation with YHF Logistics. In May 2013 a weekly roundtrip between Chengdu and Malaszewicz was added to DHL Global Forwarding’s program. Last January, the Deutsche Post logistics arm together with partner YHF Logistics announced the launch of a year-round temperature controlled rail service from Chengdu to Poland, including end to end Customs clearance processes.
And this latest offering doesn’t seem to be the end of the DHL line.


Similar to DHL competitor DB Schenker discovered the Eurasian Land Bridge as rewarding alternative to sea, air, and sea/air combination transports some years ago. In 2011, the logistics unit of railway operator Deutsche Bahn was contracted to operate dedicated cargo trains linking Chongqing with Europe. Shortly after scheduled container trains filled with automotive parts on behalf of BMW sent from Leipzig in Saxony to Shenyang in northeast China followed.  Ever since, the number of multimodal rail transports between Far East and Europe has increased.
Now UPS is joining the club. But it can be expected that it will take some time until the integrator catches up with its global competitors on rail transports across the Eurasian corridor.


Heiner Siegmund 

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