DHL launches new Moscow service
Increasing trade between China and Russia has prompted express giant DHL to launch a an intermodal service from Chengdu to Moscow via Poland. The new service comes as the outdated Trans-Siberian Railway fails to meet demand.
Foreign trade between the two countries rose 11.2 per cent to US$88.2 billion last year and is expected to rise to US$100 billion in 2015, before doubling to US$200 billion in 2020, China's Ministry of Trade says.
However, logistical bottlenecks are becoming a drag on trade growth. The century-old Trans-Siberian Railway and the overloaded shipment facilities at the border city of Manzhouli, Inner Mongolia, account for 60 per cent of the land transport between the two nations. DHL Global Forwarding, the freight forwarding arm of the German logistics company, started a weekly train-and-truck service from Chengdu to Moscow via Malaszewicze, Poland, on April 26.
The dedicated freight train from Chengdu to Malaszewicze, dubbed the Chengdu Express, takes 14 days, followed by a truck service to Moscow in two to three days. This compares with at least 20 days via the Trans-Siberian Railway from the mainland to Moscow, subject to delays.
The punctuality of the western corridor from Chengdu was plus six hours or minus four hours while the trans-Siberian service could face delays of days, said Bruno Selmoni, head of road freight and multimodal, Asia Pacific, for DHL Global Forwarding. The company has operations on both railways.
"We are looking into [the Chengdu express train] with a boarder perspective. Its potential is not just to Moscow but to the whole of Europe."
DHL consolidated all the shipments from China in its cargo hub in Malaszewicze, from where it linked up with most European cities in two or three days by truck or train, Selmoni said. "Air freight is the fastest, yet the cost is highest, while shipping is cheap but slow. An intermodal service is between the two," he said.
The train services are usually loaded with electronic goods from China and engineering machines on the way back to the mainland.
DHL has run an intermodal service from Shanghai to Moscow via the Trans-Siberian Railway since 2011. Selmoni said the company had no plan to cut back on its popular service in the northern corridor.