Chinese rail freight train to Europe. Licensed to London News Pictures. 18/01/2017. London, UK. Photo credit: Peter Macdiarmid/LNP

FELB to introduce railway service for banned goods via Middle Corridor

© Licensed to London News Pictures. 18/01/2017. London, UK. A traditional dance greets the first direct rail freight train from China as it arrives at Barking Rail Freight Terminal east of London. The new service set off from China on the 3rd of January this year. London is now the 15th European city to join what the Chinese government calls the New Silk Route. Photo credit: Peter Macdiarmid/LNP

Far East Land Bridge (FELB) plans to launch a regular railway service between Poland and China via the Middle Corridor. This is a multimodal route using a combination of sea and rail connections. The operator has tested the service this summer.

The test run departed from Sławków in Poland and arrived in Urumqi in Western China on 8 August. En route, it travelled through Odessa in Ukraine, then to the country of Georgia and finally through Azerbaijan before crossing the Caspian Sea to Kazakhstan.

Banned goods

A stable route across these countries is suitable for the transport of goods that need to be delivered to China within a short time, but which are banned by Russian sanctions, FELB pointed out. The route via Russia has a shorter lead time, but shippers are faced with sanctions on different types of goods, such as fresh foods.

“This new connection will be an answer for the entire food and beverage industry in Europe especially for perishable food and goods. The transit time was longer than expected due to some technical issues at the border station into Ukraine. However, in the future, block trains will be moved from the Polish border to Odessa in just 44 hours. We can expect a 12-13 days transit time from Poland to the border of China”, said the operator.

Test run

The test run was carried out in cooperation with PKP LHS. Since the cargo was a trial of the viability of the route, the container transported remained empty to reduce costs and customs and sanitary procedures. “FELB was the first rail operator to invest their own funds into exploring the possibility of transporting via the Trans-Caspian route. Transporting an empty container also had the added benefit of ensuring quality and safety for future customers.”

FELB said that it is currently in development of this product and will be introducing it to the market in the next few months. “Our plan is to create an entire new branch of rail logistics for our service options that offer faster transit times at better prices.”

Author: Majorie van Leijen

Majorie van Leijen is the editor-in-chief of, the online magazine for rail freight professionals.

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