UK’s Davies Turner reports double volumes on its China Express

Hefei South station China

Davies Turner, which operate a multimodal service between China and London, has reported a doubling of traffic on their weekly service. The intermodal service runs by rail to Neuss in Germany with road and ferry completing the transfer to Purfleet on the River Thames. The company is now planning direct connections elsewhere in the UK.

According to industry sources, almost one thousand trains traversed the New Silk Road routes between China and Europe in the month of April – a new record. Among them is the weekly scheduled container service managed by UK multimodal transport, logistics and warehousing organisation Davies Turner.

Rail, road and ferry to UK

The company is better known for their road operations in the UK, but their industry-wide profile also includes air and sea operations, which have been part of their manifest since founding in 1870. However, the London headquartered organisation has much more recently been behind a weekly intermodal service, which delivers cargo to the UK from Hefei in China, via a rail link to Neuss in Germany. A combination of road to Rotterdam and ship to Purfleet completes the delivery journey.

Previously Wuhan and Xi’an have been departure points, and Duisburg has been an alternative German destination. Davies Turner recently claimed a new record for transit time on the route.

Numerous departure points

The service has been running in one form or another since 2011, predating the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). It has consistently grown in popularity, and recent circumstances have accelerated that further.

Tony Cole of Davies Turner

“Since the first such train was launched in 2011, numerous departure points have been added to the options that are available”, says Tony Cole, head of supply chain services for Davies Turner. “As the pandemic has brought aviation to a standstill, shippers are seeing freight trains as a faster alternative to shipping. As liner operators have blanked sailings to reduce capacity and maintain utilisation levels, shippers are presented both with cost and time constraints.”

Direct services to regional centres

Having reviewed the pattern of shipments, the company has decided to offer a direct service to three of their regional freight hubs across England, namely Birmingham, Bristol and Manchester, in addition to the existing direct service to Dartford. Necessary customs clearances will take place at the final destination. With a transit time of around twenty-four days from China to Dartford, Cole notes that the direct Express China Rail service offers a much faster transit when compared with the all-ocean alternative from ports on China’s North Eastern and Eastern coasts.

Volumes on the service are not yet high enough to warrant onward rail transfer in the UK. No plans therefore have been intimated about making any such arrangement, and single containers will continue to complete their journey by road from Purfleet.

Author: Simon Walton

Simon Walton is RailFreight's UK correspondent.

Add your comment

characters remaining.

Log in through one of the following social media partners to comment.