Wednesday, August 7, 2013

China Opens More Rail Freight and Intermodal Links to the Outside World

New Service Commences Whilst an Old One Begins Again
Shipping News Feature

CHINA – GERMANY – RUSSIA – EUROPE – The chance to provide true intermodal services between China and Europe took a step forward recently with DB Schenker acting as the logistics partner for the city of Zhengzhou to organise the first freight train journey from the north-central Chinese city to Hamburg. The trip, organised by the Zhengzhou International Land Port Development and Construction Company, saw the train, complete with fifty one containers, arrive at the freight terminal in Hamburg-Billwerder last Friday.

The train from Zhengzhou covered the 10,214 kilometre route through China, Kazakhstan, Russia, Belarus and Poland to Germany in a record time of just 15 days, with DB Schenker acting as logistics partner to Zhengzhou for all services outside China. The freight group was particularly pleased with the demonstration of such a short transit time from inland China to the distribution of the containers, causing Dr. Rüdiger Grube, Chairman of the Management Board of Deutsche Bahn AG, to comment:

"The growing Chinese goods traffic, together with the ongoing shift from production-intensive industries to the Chinese hinterland, offers a lot of potential. DB Schenker in Asia is in an excellent starting position."

Schenker of course has worked in the region for decades, with the first containers on the Trans-Siberian route forty years ago and services to Beijing starting five years ago, followed by the regular block train service between China and Germany set up mainly for the automotive and electronics industry; in the past two years, more than 300 freight trains were sent to and from China. Zhengzhou, the capital of Henan province, has nearly nine million inhabitants and is considered as an important industrial centre and transportation hub and an obvious target for service expansion.

Meanwhile the hundred kilometres of track between Primorsky Krai, Makhalino a Russian station on the Ussuriysk–Khasan–North Korean border line and China’s Hunchun, Yanbian, in the province of Jilin, has finally reopened after closing in 2004 according to local press. The railway was designed to carry coal and timber and opened in 2000 with projections that it would see three million tonnes of cross border freight annually. In the four years it was open it is reported that only around 50,000 tonnes of cargo actually moved on the rails.

A dispute then apparently arose, allegedly over costs and charges between the joint shareholders, Russia’s Golden Link and China’s Northeast Asia Railway Group with 20% of the line in Russian hands and the balance held by the Chinese, and the line closed and reopened before closing again with forecasts it would reopen in 2011. Now apparently common sense has prevailed and the line is once again open for business with the first train load of coal delivered last Friday.