The forwarding pillar of Deutsche Post-DHL has kicked-off a new transnational corridor for cargo trains stretching from Lianyungang in China’s eastern Jiangsu province to Istanbul, Turkey. It’s part of Beijing’s prestigious “One Belt, One Road” project, which is estimated to generate an massive €2.3 trillion in annual trade within the next ten years.
Trans-Eurasian rail options are in vogue
Hardly a quarter of a year goes by without one of the big global players in forwarding announcing a new train service crossing the vast Eurasian land bridge. Last October, Hellmann Worldwide Logistics introduced a weekly rail link connecting the central Chinese metropolis Chengdu with Nuremberg in southern Germany. Now, DHL Global Forwarding follows suit with their Lianyungang-Istanbul multimodal transport option as alternative to ocean and air carriage.
What distinguishes it from all other Trans Eurasian rail links are the two transit segments crossing the Caspian and Black Sea, therefore, combining surface and transportation across water. According to DHL-GF trade via the new corridor is expected to further bolster not only Turkey’s status as an emerging economic hub, but also benefit the trade of central Asian and southeast European countries located along the route.
The trains run 14 days
Freight traveling via the corridor departs from Lianyungang, China, traverses Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, and Georgia, as well two sea transit segments, and is expected to take around 14 days, depending on travel conditions, before arriving in Istanbul, with the option for immediate forwarding by truck to any Turkish city.
Yellow Sea-located Lianyungang was selected by DHL-GF as starting point of their cargo trains because of its geographical proximity to Japan and South Korea, thus linking eastern sea lanes with western rail routes. Moreover, due to its railway tracks running across China, connecting Lanzhou and other major cities, Lianyungang has meanwhile developed into the most eastern terminus of the Eurasian land bridge.
Industrial cooperation supported by politics
To assure seamless transportation, DHL works very closely with China, Azerbaijan and Georgia Railways, some local logistics providers alongside the governments of all three countries of transit, as well as Lianyungang's municipal government, garnering their full support of the rail corridor's operation. Simultaneously, the Deutsche Post subsidiary and multimodal operator Kazakhstan Temir Zholy Express signed a memorandum of understanding to facilitate rail connectivity across the central Asian country and its commercial hubs.
"Negotiating the complex transnational requirements that span the Silk Road Economic Belt is no easy task," said Kelvin Leung, CEO, DHL-GF Asia Pacific when sending off the first train. "It requires a deep understanding of the varying regulatory and infrastructural conditions in each market, robust partnerships with local-market experts and authorities, and experience in brokering cross-border connections without compromising on overall speed and efficiency. Global freight providers such as DHL have a critical role to play in making the new Silk Road an economic reality," the manager stated.
Turkey’s economy benefits from the rail link
Turkey has lately developed into a hotspot for Chinese exports with volumes growing at double-digit rates year after year. Meanwhile, the country counts China as its second-largest source of imports, and the EU as its largest export market. “New corridors like the Lianyungang-Istanbul link will further boost Turkey's strategic importance and associated economic development as a conduit for trade between China and Europe,” predicts Steve Huang, CEO DHL-GF China.
The new rail link complements his firm’s existing numerous services across the Eurasian land bridge, with Taiwan’s most recent addition to the network.