DAVIES Turner has revamped its weekly rail import service for less-than-container load (LCL) shipments from China to the United Kingdom to enable the containers to be moved direct from Wuhan to Duisburg, Germany from where they are trucked under bond to Rotterdam and transported to Purfleet by ferry, before going on to the company's distribution hub.
"This new more direct method of moving the container from Wuhan to the UK will remove the current need to unload the container in Poland, then reload into a trailer, which will enable us to offer a lower rate to the market and reduce the possibility of delays, as well as strengthening security," said supply chain services head Tony Cole.
The service, offered together with China's Air Sea Transport, takes 22-24 days, reported London's Loadstar.
The development comes as United Transport and Logistics Co - Eurasian Rail Alliance (UTLC ERA) announced its 3,000th train this year, which started its journey last week.
The total volume of traffic between January and November reached a record high of 245,000 TEU, an increase of 58 per cent year on year. Last year, UTLC ERA sent 2,102 trains, carrying 175,800 TEU, up from 101,000 TEU in 2016.
This growth in demand indicates that Asia-Europe overland services are strengthening as speed, security and rates improve compared to air and sea freight by offering savings of time over sea and cost over air.
Rail has now been joined by trucks operating the Wuhan to UK route. Ceva at the end of last month sent its first truck, which took just 13 days from China to Poland. It will start providing regular services in 2019.
The greatest modal threat from the new services is to air; however, CEO Richard Forson of China-Europe specialist Cargolux did not seem too concerned.
"Infrastructure for China-Europe trucking is not the best and the train is quite slow. The overland route has the potential to be a threat but there are security aspects as well. I think it's difficult. And I don't think trucking would be very efficient, in terms of drivers and so on."
That said, the alternative transport mode has been well-received by shippers.
Davies Turner chairman Philip Stephenson said: "We were one of the early adopters of the opportunity to ship via rail from China to the UK and it has proved to be a practical way of offering an alternative, with clear advantages over the ocean freight and air cargo options in terms of cost and transit times.
"We have already seen during the previous two years of providing rail services how this option has assisted clients' supply chain needs, and with proven schedule reliability, secure market conditions and competitive rates, rail is proving to be an increasingly popular choice."