russian railway © Christopher Rawlins
© Christopher Rawlins

As air freight rates surge with Chinese production begining to come back, rail services too are starting to re-launch.

Davies Turner said yesterday its Express China service would restart on 13 March.

It has a fixed-day, weekly direct rail import service from the China to Germany and the UK.

“In keeping with normal practice, our Express China Rail Service did not operate during the Chinese New Year holiday break, and its suspension has been further extended due to Covid-19,” explained Tony Cole, head of supply chain services.

“With Wuhan, the epicentre of the epidemic, continuing to be under lockdown and the re-opening of factories there recently postponed until 11 March, the rail service will now depart from the Xi’an rail hub, directly into Duisburg in Germany.”

Containers, under bond, will be trucked to Rotterdam and then taken by ferry to Purfleet. Then they will finally be discharged and cleared at the company’s distribution centre near Dartford.

Initially, the service will be weekly, but if there is sufficient demand, the frequency could rise to twice a week. Transit time from Xi’an to Duisberg is about 18 days, giving shippers enough time to put stock in the shops before Easter.

“At this time, we have rail bookings to hand which relate to frames for glasses, plastic film, metal parts, tooling, as well as fashion goods; but our closing date for receipt of cargo for the initial departure from Xi’an is not until 9 March, and therefore we expect further bookings,” added Mr Cole.

“Since we launched the dedicated weekly direct consol service in November 2018, we have seen it go from strength to strength. The service offers a very competitive alternative to air freight in terms of cost, and considerably faster transit times compared with the ocean freight alternative.”

One forwarder, however, indicated that the costs for rail may also be rising fast,


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  • Rail bridge cargo

    March 05, 2020 at 2:53 pm

    The comment on transit times Xi’an to Duisburg is not correct we currently operate both Fcl and lcl on this same route and our transit time is between 12-14 days not 18 days
    Please ask us if you want faster service and we operated second week after CHINESE new year on rail regular service with no bottlenecks