Freight trains have begun running between Bremen in northern Germany, and Chongqing, China, on behalf of Hellmann Worldwide Logistics. The first train arrived in Bremen last week, loaded with 44 containers, and following a 20-day-long journey. A high-level delegation consisting of politicians and logistics experts welcomed the train upon its arrival.
Freight trains connecting the Far East with Europe have been an alternative to ocean and air carriage of shipments for meanwhile almost 15 years. Since the beginning, they have frequently been scheduled to cross the vast Eurasian land-bridge either on the northern route via Siberia, or the southern leg leading through Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Russia, and Poland, and ending in Germany or even in the UK. Rail cargo that initially began as a tentative experiment, has long since proven its efficiency and competitiveness, growing year after year, and gaining popularity among forwarders and shippers
However, Bremen, which is located at the northwestern edge of Germany, has so far been off the beaten track. This is why the city’s politicians were prominently represented when the first Chinese train came to a halt at the cargo terminal of local freight agent, Roland Umschlagsgesellschaft, ending the “splendid isolation”. It was a successful premiere.
So far, most cargo trains running between Chongqing and Germany (and back), have been routed via Hamburg to end in Duisburg, the world’s largest inland port. But thanks to Hellmann's initiative, Bremen has now been put on the map, complementing the transcontinental network. In future, the operator will conduct three runs per week between Chongqing, Bremen, and back.
To offer customers an even wider reach, Hellmann, in cooperation with Chinese train operator, Yuxinou, is currently evaluating the option for feeder rail transports, connecting Chongqing with destinations in Vietnam or Laos. The same applies to Germany, where onforwarding rail transports are being evaluated by Hellmann and its business partner, Roland Umschlagsgesellschaft. To that end, different terminals in Southern Europe and Eastern Europe will be incorporated in the future network, feeding the existing daily freight train connections between Bremen, Stuttgart, and Verona in Italy.
Due to the current bottlenecks the ocean and air freight sectors are facing, transcontinental rail transport of goods is increasingly in demand. This has already caused jams on some of the most frequented routes utilized by cargo trains. By expanding the network, “we are taking pressure off the existing routes, and offering customers an alternative fast and reliable connection between Asia and Europe,” Jens Wollesen, Chief Operating Officer of Hellmann Worldwide Logistics, stated upon the initial train’s arrival.
Multitude of services
The runs are complemented by additional services which increase the efficiency of rail transport. These include customs clearance of goods (also in transit countries), cross docking, consolidation shipments, and HUB and warehouse handling or storage, among others.
In pre- and on-carriage, FCL and LCL shipments are controlled by a seamless monitoring system, Hellmann emphasizes.
“Trans-Eurasian rail transports are an ideal complement for our ports, adding to the range of logistic services that comprise air and ocean transport,” Claudia Schilling, Bremen’s Senator for Science and Ports, stated, after the first train had come to a stop.
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