DHL Puts a New Transcontinental Cargo Train on Track

The route commences at Suzhou, near Shanghai and ends in Warsaw, Poland. The trans-Eurasian rail link is a capacity neutral offer to the market usable by any interested company.

Trans-Eurasian cargo trains are increasingly challenging combined sea/air traffic solutions  /  source: DHL
Trans-Eurasian cargo trains are increasingly challenging combined sea/air traffic solutions / source: DHL

Zhengzhou-Hamburg-Zhengzhou, Leipzig-Shenyang, Chengdu-Lodz – the number of rail services linking China with Europe are springing up like mushrooms. Now, Deutsche Post’s logistics pillar DHL Global Forwarding has sat another cargo train on track, connecting Suzhou and Warsaw.

Alternative to sea/air traffic
The freight trains, running along the trans-Siberian north corridor, will need two weeks to cover the 11,000 km distance between their starting point near the Pacific Rim and Poland’s capital.  Hence, together with the already existing rail connections managed by DB Schenker, Hellmann, DHL and others this mode of surface transport is increasingly challenging the traditional sea/air combination via Dubai or other ports in the Arabian Emirates as far as costs, connectivity and running times are concerned.    

Growing market interest in multimodal solutions
Suzhou is a strategic departure point for the Chinese province Jiangsu, where many producers of machinery and equipment, automobile manufacturers, high-tech companies and retailers are located. Reasons Roger Crook, CEO DHL Global Forwarding, Freight: “It’s a huge benefit for our customers to have direct access to inter-continental rail links rather than having to go via Chengdu. Being able to offer multiple loading points across China creates many opportunities for our clients, which is why we are seeing so much interest in multimodal services.”

Customized options
The new cargo train operated on behalf of DHL complements the existing daily single wagon service from Shanghai to Europe, also along the north corridor, and the weekly block train service from Chengdu to Europe along China’s west corridor rail line through Kazakhstan, Russia, and Belarus to Europe.  

“As a flexible solution, this service offers the option of booking variable capacity – ranging from a single container to an entire train. Our customers in both continents benefit from reduced door-to-door lead times and CO2 emissions via an effective transport route that seamlessly connects both our groupage network in Europe and DHL Global Forwarding, Freight’s Asian network,” explains Amadou Diallo, CEO DHL Freight.  
Eco-friendly solution
Broadly, DHL’s multi-modal rail solution customers can expect delivery time reductions of between 10 and 21 days compared to sea freight, depending on origin and destination pairs. In addition, customers seeking environmentally friendly solutions can also expect a fall of CO2 emissions of up to 90% compared to airfreight, assures DHL.   
DHL Global Forwarding, Freight launched the first train service in July 2010 following the completion of more than 120 single container trial shipments. Earlier this year, DHL introduced the first temperature-controlled China-Europe rail service, providing customers with precise climate control of containers, regardless of the weather, on the lane from China to Europe going via the west corridor between Chengdu and Lodz.   

There is more to come 
And that doesn’t seem to be all. According to DHL, European customers will soon enjoy even broader access to the Asian market. The company is exploring ways to further expand the network to include Japan and Korea, by using ferry services between the three countries, to enable a faster-to-market approach for all customers and therefore strengthening the footprint in the North Asian multimodal market. Currently, DHL is closely examining the ferry option across the Yellow Sea, linking Japanese and South Korean ports with Shanghai. Once there, the containers will be transshipped onto trains and railed across the Eurasian land bridge to Europe.

Heiner Siegmund

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