Booming Asia rail trade prompts DHL to open Stuttgart center

If air carriers and forwarders weren’t yet concerned about competition from Eurasian rail cargo connections, they may be after today, when DHL Global Forwarding opened a new “China Rail Competence Center” Germany to better coordinate door-to-door services to customers via rail and truck.

Rail freight traffic between Germany and China has increased 10 times in the last year, alone, said Volker Oesau, CEO of DHL Global Forwarding’s operations in Germany and Central Europe. The new facility, located in Stuttgart, will help coordinate the surge in volume and also improve customer service for the forwarding arm of Deutsche Post DHL Group.

“In order to meet ever-increasing demand, the onus is on us to grow,” Oesau said.

Most of the secured cargo that will be handled by the new Stuttgart Rail Competence Center is destined for German customers in the automotive, technology, mechanical engineering and retail sectors. Each shipment is also monitored by “state-of-the-art track and trace systems,” including data on temperature control.

Along the 12,000-kilometer journey, DHL Global Forwarding now offers 15 rail connections with seven door-to-door rail transports per week between Germany and Asia. Following the course of the trans-Kazakh western corridor and the trans-Siberian northern corridor, the rail service is also connected to major economic centers in China, Taiwan, Japan and South Korea.

Rail customers can choose from DHL Railconnect products for less-than-container-load (LCL) shipments, DHL Railline shipment of full-container-load (FCL) products, and temperature-controlled rail services. Further door-to-door service by truck or other rail spur, is also offered, based on the urgency of each shipment.

The DHL service is helped by the use of the consignment note for rail freight in Europe and Asia, known as “CIM/SMGS,” which facilitates the faster customs clearance of goods, DHL said. This waybill can be used for both wagon-load traffic and combined transport, and eliminates the need for transcription of documents at border crossings between jurisdictions along the roughly two-week journey.

Transfer times for unloading and reloading of railcars due to track gauge changes have also been reduced, because border crossings are now “perfectly timed and run seamlessly,” Oesau said. “The introduction of the standardized CIM/SMGS waybill has simplified rail transport procedure and minimized the administrative effort entailed at border crossing points.”


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