Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Chinese Intermodal Logistics Links Continue to Expand Operations to Challenge Sea Freight

New Rail - Road Services to South Asia and Europe Open New Markets and Promise Quicker Deliveries
Shipping News Feature
CHINA – EUROPE – ASIA – The ‘New Silk Road’ transport strategy being implemented by the Chinese government continues to expand as new intermodal routes are opened to Nepal and Afghanistan and clients hoping to exploit faster transit times sign on for shipments between Europe and China. Last Sunday saw the first departure of a new rail-road freight service linking Lanzhou and Kathmandu in Nepal following successful trials in May.

The weekly service is made of three parts: a 2,431 km Lanzhou-Shigatse railway section, a highway from Shigatse in Tibet to Gyirong and a second railway section of 160 km from Gyirong to Katmandu. It takes around 10 days, 35 days less than previous land and sea routes. It is predicted that the service will be expanded to two departures weekly by the end of the year.

Also this week came the announcement that another new service, running from Bordeaux in France to Wuhan, is going to commence carrying fourteen thousand bottles of wines. The trip, which will cross Eastern Europe and Russia, will provide a direct service between the two countries and take 16 days, considerably shorter than the 35 days required previously by shipping by sea.

These developments all follow on from a new service between China and Afghanistan, which commenced in August. Running between Yiwu and Mazar-i-Shariff the operators say the route is causing a boom in trade between the two countries with total import-export volume during the first half of this year up by 4,683% compared with the same period last year.

This is the fifth cargo train route linking Yiwu to Europe or Asia. Such freight routes already in service connect Yiwu with countries including Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Spain, Iran, and Russia.

Though the quantities of freight carried by these rail links is still insignificant compared to sea freight, as the services mature and greater flexibility is achieved through new routes, whilst technology simultaneously improves on reliability and speed, then sea freight, already currently hard pressed due to overcapacity and rising costs, may find itself in deeper waters than previously.