The Chinese e-commerce trade is booming and multiplying at an amazing rate. Chinese carriers such as SF Express, YTO Airlines and the China Post are all busy with setting up new hubs, increasing their fleets and adding new domestic and regional destinations to their operations. An intermodal air-rail concept is now in the process of being set up to ensure quicker delivery to end consumers throughout this vast country.
Chengdu to set up a new air-rail system
Various Chinese airlines and railway companies have joined forces and come up with the idea of introducing what they term as pilot project for an air-rail program by using Chengdu as a start-up airport.
The Sichuan Airport Group along with SF Express and Sichuan Airlines have teamed up with China Railway Express and the Chengdu Railway Bureau to utilize the Chinese high speed rail system to deliver packages speedily to the airport for connection to SF Express and Sichuan Airlines flights. It is no secret that in the meantime China has a very impressive high-speed rail network which covers much of the country. The pilot project will use Chengdu to see how things work out and then hopefully extend the project into other areas.
First shipment moved at the end of August
Not wanting to wait around too long - China Railway Express took over a package at the end of August at a newly set-up collection centre in Mianyang, a town situated around 160 km north of Chengdu Airport, had it registered there directly into SF Express’s booking system and then moved it by high speed train to Chengdu Airport. After only one-and-a-half hours the shipment taken over by Sichuan Airlines and flown to Shanghai and given to SF staff for final delivery. All parties claim that this system is far less time consuming and easier to monitor than the usual road transport system which is suffering from long traffic jams.
Is this the future for Chinese domestic e-commerce?
It seems that most of the ingredients are there to make this pilot project a success and expand it into other regions. Chinese high speed trains are noted for their punctuality, something which some of their European counterparts should take note of. There are enough express companies and airlines now in China who could possibly become firm partners in this mode of transport and help speed up package delivery throughout the country.
Officials state that customers will have an easy time by being able to use a booking system whereby they only need to fill out one waybill for the complete air-train or train-air segment for door-to-door delivery. Tests will continue this year in the Sichuan province and will then be evaluated as to how it can be improved.
Then - maybe other regions will jump on the bandwagon.
China - Europe rail services increase capacity
Will there be a distinct shift from air and sea freight to rail cargo from China in the future?
Air is faster, but more expensive and sea is slower but cheap. The rail in the middle seems to be attracting more attention and customers. Statistics show that fashion goods are one of the new commodities moving on the China - Europe train services; moving away from traditional air freight routes. The transit times are acceptable for most shippers. Just over two weeks on the sector China - Europe and four to five days longer eastbound. In the meantime, there are various southbound and northbound routes being operated and Germany’s Duisburg is a much sort after destination.
New Rail link from Duisburg
Last week Tiger Limited, the Hong Kong based e-commerce specialist, announced that they have launched a new rail freighter service named Tiger Rail. Trains with a transit time of 16 days both east and west will operates between the German port of Duisburg and the Chinese cities Hefei, Chongqing and Chengdu. Tigers state that clients can either book Full Container Loads (FCL), Less than Container loads (LCL) or a complete train on the weekly scheduled service.
John Mc Donagh