FREIGHT and logistics company Davies Turner says the news that April was the busiest month to date for China-Europe freight train departures mirrors its own experience on its direct Express China Rail service.
Tony Cole, head of supply chain services for the UK company said, “Our weekly LCL volumes on the service have increased from one to two 40-foot high cube consol containers per week this time last year, to three to four, currently; more than a 100% increase in the last 12 months”.
Reports indicate that 976 container freight trains departed for Europe from various places in China during April – a 47% year-on-year increase.
“Since the first such train was launched in 2011, numerous departure points have been added to the options that are available and the operation gained renewed momentum when China’s President Xi Jinping launched the Belt and Road initiative in 2013, with rail transport encouraged as an alternative to shipping,” Mr Cole said.
“As the Covid-19 pandemic has brought aviation to a standstill, shippers are seeing freight trains as a faster alternative to shipping. As liner operators have blanked sailings to reduce capacity and maintain utilisation levels, shippers are presented both with cost and time constraints.”
Davies Turner launched its own dedicated weekly fixed-day rail consol import service from China to the UK in November 2018 and has seen it go from strength to strength.
On departure from China, the rail service heads direct to Duisburg in Germany. Containers are then trucked under bond to the nearby port of Rotterdam for transport by ferry to Purfleet, near Dartford, thence for on-carriage by truck to Davies Turner’s regional distribution centres, where they are discharged, customs cleared and delivered.
“With a transit time of around 24 days from China to Dartford, our direct Express China Rail service offers a vastly improved transit time versus the all-ocean alternative from ports on China’s north-eastern and eastern coasts,” Mr Cole said.