The old route between East and West into China, known as the Silk Road, has been revamped. Rail services between China and Europe are increasing, as freight services realise that transporting goods via rail can not only be cheaper than air, but quicker than shipping by sea, and earning the nickname the New Silk Road. Last week saw the release of a new service between Chengdu, in China’s Sichuan province, to the city of Lodz, in central Poland.
YHF Logistics, the Chinese-Polish joint-venture company behind the new service, say it has made a promising start. “The weekly service was launched at the end of April and has made a very satisfactory debut to the extent that we are aiming to introduce daily frequencies from Chengdu by the end of 2013,” YHF Logistics’ CEO, Sofiane Rachedi.
The 10,000km journey moves freight through a number of different countries, including Kazakhstan and Russia, on a weekly basis. Comprised of 40-50 wagons and carrying a variety of different sized containers, the express train takes around two weeks ‘door-to-door’. And with its delivery times beating sea freight timescales it offers customers a quicker, if slightly more expensive alternative.
“The service is more expensive than ocean freight but offers far shorter transit times than the 30-40 days by ship. While it can’t match the delivery lead times of air freight, rates are considerably cheaper.
“The service supplements rather than rivals air and ocean transport and has already attracted some of the biggest names in freight forwarding, such as DHL, DB Schenker, UPS, TNT, Geodis and Hellmann, who view it as a solution for shipping goods in high-value-added sectors,” Rachedi said.
YHF Logistics have plans to put a return journey service in to place, taking advantage of the wagons returning to their Chinese starting point, carrying European freight in to China. This is common practice for road freight in particular and can help reduce costs. “We expect to operate several trains from Lodz to Chengdu this summer, on an ad hoc basis, and move to a scheduled service of one to two trains per week from end 2013/early-2014, carrying a broad range of luxury and top brand goods.”