By Alexander Whiteman
One Belt, One Road is continuing its inexorable march into Europe, with both Damco and Kerry announcing new rail freight services out of China. Kerry’s westbound service will leave from Lianyungang, using the newly built Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway to bring shipments through Kazakhstan, the Caspian and into Turkey. Managing Director for China and north Asia, Edwardo Erni, said the service had a scheduled transit time of 18-20 days. “Our rail freight and trucking capabilities are extending their reach to the strategic locations of Turkey and Caucasus,” he said. “[With these] we will be able to grasp the immense market opportunities presented by the Belt and Road initiative with our enhanced position in the region.”
Hot on the heels of Kerry’s announcement was news that Damco would be launching a service linking China and France. Damco’s Chief Executive for the Greater China area, Caroline Wu, said: “The new weekly rail service will enable Damco’s customers to develop a more agile supply chain.” According to the company, the service should cut some 20 days from the transit time offered by ocean container lines, and provide full traceability. Global head of rail Kasper Krog said he was aware of the “pressure” customers were under to cut transit times, claiming the new service would be a “reliable, speedy” alternative to ocean. “Our GPS offers customers detailed insights into container whereabouts at all times, giving them peace of mind about the timely delivery, as well as their safety and security,” he said. “With greater predictability, our customers can make more informed decisions about how they move their goods.”
Accompanying the launch of Kerry’s rail freight service is the expansion of trucking volumes along the same route, as well as the addition of 50 trucks to its fleet. Mr. Erni described this as an even quicker alternative to the rail freight service, with a transit time from China to Turkey of as little as 14 days.
The last 12 months have seen a raft of new rail services from China to Europe, with Chinese operator Wuhan Han’ou announcing a 30 per cent expansion of its own services in February.
Reprinted courtesy of The Loadstar (www.theloadstar.co.uk)