Image: Maersk/Damco/Decathlon

France welcomes Damco’s first China block train

Freight forwarder and supply chain specialist Damco’s first ever block train service from China has arrived on schedule in France after departing Wuhan laden with goods for sports retailer Decathlon. It’s the first block train into France run by Damco’s rail freight team using Maersk Line containers, and marks another symbolic statement about rail’s sustainability as a long-distance freight transport option.

Damco, which operates across the world but has its global base in The Netherlands, says one of the main objectives of the service was demonstrating to businesses how they can stay ahead of and meet their supply chain demands in a safe, secure and timely way. A combination of GPS tracking and daily reports provided the client with up-to-the-minute visibility on their goods.

Immediate benefits

Kasper Krog, Head of Rail at Damco, said: “We are pleased that we have been able to put together this solution for Decathlon, and in fact for the wider market, that has produced immediate benefits on a logistics and economic level.”

Decathlon entrusted Damco with a symbolic box containing a sample of the sporting goods being transported as part of the departure ceremony held last month in China. The box was handed over to the client and opened as part of the official welcoming ceremony held to demonstrate the safe arrival of the goods. The route took the train from China to Kazakstahn, Russia, Belarus, Poland, Germany and finally to Dourges in northern France.

Philippe Dunand, Global Account Director of Damco’s Lifestyle Vertical, said: “The arrival of the block train…shows that we have a viable service that can support businesses seeking more cost-effective and/or sustainable methods of transporting their goods from China to Europe. This is good news for business and good news for our customer, Decathlon. We will continue to focus our efforts on developing the strategies and services to support companies in lifestyle and other sectors.”

Win-win cooperation

Mike Fang, of Maersk Line’s Greater China Cluster Top, said: “This win-win cooperation between Maersk Line and Damco demonstrates our commitment to develop innovative ways of propelling our customers’ business. We do this by providing a transport alternative that enables our customers to take advantage of the economic growth brought by the Belt and Road Initiative. By jointly introducing our block train service to customers, we will strengthen our company’s positioning as Decathlon’s trusted logistics partner in China.”

The China to Europe rail solution offers a substantial, complementary advantage over ocean freight solutions. Demand for the China-Europe rail services has increased significantly in recent years, and there has been a rapid expansion of high-value cargo such as electronics, machinery and fashion goods needing quick delivery to their final markets. In addition to existing platforms of sea- and airfreight, the block train solution will be one of the major modes of delivering goods.

Author: Simon Weedy

Simon is a journalist for - a dedicated online platform for all the news about the rail freight sector

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