DHL Global Forwarding is launching a trans-Eurasian, less-than-container load (LCL) railway service between Duisburg, Germany, and Chengdu, China, with a 29-day lead time. The move will expand China’s “One Belt, One Road” initiative, which aims to connect European and Asian economies via railway along the ancient “Silk Road” route.
Launched in 2015, the US$4-8 trillion Chinese government-sponsored initiative encompasses land routes (the “Belt”) and maritime routes (the “Road”) with the goal of bolstering the Chinese economy, and economies south of China, as well as promoting more global trade.
In May, the company made its first moves in forwarding the Belt-Road initiative, signing a memorandum of understanding with Austria’s Rail Cargo Group to develop an intermodal rail network between Vienna and Chengdu for a 15-day service.
Railway services are considered faster than seafreight and less expensive than airfreight. Due to longer delivery times, however, perishable cargo is not a good candidate for the transportation mode, but for certain shippers – such as those in automotive, manufacturing, engineering and chemical sectors – utilization of the medium-speed, medium-priced rail transportation mode is an ideal option.
Thomas Kowitzki, head of China Rail, Multimodal Europe, at DHL GF, said the new LCL service also “allows exporters of smaller volumes a reliable and proper planning of their supply chains.” He added: “What has long been standard for air, sea and road transport is now also available for rail. We are filling an important gap and continue to expand our product portfolio to suit all shipment sizes with planned departure schedules for west- and eastbound directions.”