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Rail-focused forwarders continue to benefit from the recent Suez Canal chaos: the higher demand making new services and routes possible.
Hong Kong based U-Freight said demand was up for both LCL and FCL cargo, as the Ever Given fallout makes rail look “all the more attractive”.
CEO Simon Wong said: “Clearly, supply chain planners are reappraising what was once a dominant Suez Canal route from China into Europe, with intermodal rail continuing a sharp upward trajectory following a strong 2020.
“The Covid pandemic and capacity problems in the air and ocean sectors have pushed the route to much heavier usage – the recent blockage of the Suez Canal leading to additional traffic.”
According to China State Railway, in the first quarter there were 3,345 trips by China-Europe freight trains, carrying 317,000 teu, an incredible year-on-year increase of 79%.
U-Freight consolidates cargo at its Zhengzhou and Shanghai hubs, using services to the Polish village of Malaszewicze – a key rail gateway into Eastern Europe – Hamburg and Liege.
Mr Wong said: “We now handle significant consol shipments from China to Germany, Italy, Sweden, Switzerland and the Netherlands, as well as smaller volumes to other European countries.
“While other transport modes still face significant capacity and schedule issues, our overland rail freight service clearly offers a competitive alternative to air freight in regards to price, and considerably faster transit times compared to the ocean freight alternative.”
Meanwhile, Ceva Logistics has upgraded its China-Europe block train services to meet “unprecedented demand for transport and logistics services”.
The forwarder has added a premium offering on an existing route from Xi’an, to Germany’s Mukran port, an additional regular block train from Xi’an to Duisburg, via Malaszewicze, starting 1 June and a new train-ferry service from Xi’an to the UK port of Immingham, via Kaliningrad.
Ceva said: “Our aim for port-to-port delivery times is 18-20 days, with door-to-door delivery times not exceeding 25 days.”