Workers walk along a Europe-bound freight train on Aug 24 in Yiwu, East China's Zhejiang province. (ZHU XINGXIN / CHINA DAILY)
The new express freight service from Xi'an in Shaanxi province to Hamburg and Neuss in Germany will meet the logistics requirements for higher quality and efficiency with reasonable cost for cross-border transportation between China and Europe, and cut transit time from 17 days to between 10 and 12 days, according to a senior executive from DHL Global Forwarding.
"CIIE is the best opportunity for us to have a face-to-face communication with customers, and we get a lot of feedback ... We can do the solution on the logistics to meet customer needs."
Steve Huang, CEO of DHL Global Forwarding China
The service, which extends to about 9,400 kilometers, has the fastest train delivery from China to Europe by traveling through the Mamonovo-Braniewo railway border between Russia and Poland. It was launched jointly by DHL Global Forwarding and Xi'an International Inland Port Investment &Development Group Co Ltd.
Steve Huang, CEO of DHL Global Forwarding China, said the service is the latest development of DHL in supporting the Belt and Road Initiative with increased logistics capabilities from China to European cities in a faster way.
According to him, China, as the European Union's second-biggest trading partner, is its biggest source of imports and the second-biggest source of exports. Daily trade between China and Europe is estimated at 1 billion euros (US$1.12 billion), with huge growth potential.
Cross-border logistics demand for higher quality and higher efficiency is going up significantly, creating a market for railway transportation that offers lower costs than shipping by air but much faster than ocean transportation.
China's continuous opening-up and the progress of the Belt and Road Initiative will give full play to rail transport, which offers both high quality and efficiency for cargo delivery across the Eurasian countries, said Huang.
Railways has re-emerged as a viable option for trans-Eurasian freight, while air and road freight will each play a part in countries and regions related to the Belt and Road Initiative. Together, they form the basis for a new multimodal shipping platform that is aiding supply chains.
Huang also noted that the launch of the fastest rail freight service between China and Germany is inspired by the feedback from customers attending last year's China International Import Expo (CIIE).
"CIIE is the best opportunity for us to have a face-to-face communication with customers, and we get a lot of feedback ... We can do the solution on the logistics to meet customer needs," said Huang.
Xi'an, at the heart of the new Silk Road Economic Belt, is taking on the same important role it had during the ancient route in Marco Polo's era. It is believed to be an ideal location for rail freight services serving Central Asian and European markets.
"Xi'an is now a foreign investment and manufacturing hub. In 2018, its exports increased 29 percent year-on-year. The city is a thriving international center with high-quality production capabilities in pillar industries like mechanicals, electronics, biopharmaceuticals and automobile manufacturing," said Huang.
In the meantime, Xi'an and its surrounding areas are attracting growing foreign investments as the city is focusing on technologies like artificial intelligence, 5G infrastructure and cloud computing, as well as enhancing its manufacturing capabilities. To date, Xi'an is home to more than 100 AI enterprises and a growing number of enterprises with operations at home and abroad.
By boosting greater agility whilst offering the express rail service at reasonable costs, DHL Global Forwarding seeks to connect these fast-evolving industries to rising demand and market opportunities in Europe.
"Over the past four months, we have been working closely with DHL to test and start this express line. Both teams have showed a tremendously high degree of enthusiasm and professionalism," said Qu Jinwei, general manager of Xi'an International Inland Port Investment& Development Group.
The railroad passes through Kazakhstan, Russia, Belarus, and Lithuania to Kaliningrad Oblast, a part of Russia on the southern coast of the Baltic Sea, before entering the EU via the Mamonovo-Braniewo crossing. The final stretch of the route crosses Poland into Germany to the port city of Hamburg, and to Neuss, an important logistics hub on the Rhine river across Dusseldorf.
"As next steps, we will strive to make this express rail freight a success. Using the development model of 'hub and industry integration', we will leverage this service to strengthen the collaboration between the region's manufacturing and trading sectors with international logistics. This would attract more industries to our region, fortifying their capabilities to gather resources from international supply chains and sharpening their competitive edge," Qu said.
The Xi'an-Hamburg express rail connection allows customers to learn real-time status of their goods throughout the transportation door-to-door by using GPS tracking of shipments.
HONG KONG NEWS