Freight train in Kazakhstan. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Dachser Logistics turns to rail transport

The logistics company Dachser organised its first westbound block train from Suzhou, China, to Ludwigshafen KTL Kombi-Terminal in Mannheim, Germany. The train carrying fifty 40-foot containers reached Germany in late December. It used the China-Mongolia-Russia corridor via Erenhot and entered Europe through Belarus and Poland.

This new connection, operated by RTSB, was a pilot service between the two destinations, complementary to existing sea and air links for one of the company’s biggest customers. Its regularity is not yet fixed. Nevertheless, Dachser scrutinises the option of rail since it recognises the potential that the mode has in terms of efficiency and costs.

Why rail?

The pandemic played, of course, a crucial role in the turn towards rail freight transport. “Scarcity of air and sea freight capacities lead to an increased demand for rail freight”, says Vedat Serbet, Rail Services Manager EMEA at Dachser. That is why the company used rail haulage for the first time in its Eurasian services last year, with a frequent eastbound block train carrying chemical products.

The current situation though was just a motive that resulted in recognising rail freight’s overall benefits. “Transportation by rail is reliable in terms of scheduling and lets customers bypass volatile ocean freight rates or sudden flight cancellations. And last but not least, it’s more affordable than air freight,” adds Serbet.

Moreover, the forthcoming Chinese New Year is also very relevant to launching the Suzhou-Ludwigshafen’s link. Customers expect a rising demand for products due to the festive season and search for safe and fast solutions to meet the market’s needs. Rail can take advantage of such opportunities and establish its presence even in markets unknown beforehand.

Suhzou’s position in China.

End-to-end service

Another interesting characteristic of the new service relates to the coordination of the entire collection process, including pickup, gate-to-terminal, and customs clearance, by the Dachser China team in cooperation with RTSB. Additionally, after the train’s arrival in Mannheim, the company’s branch based in the city undertook the distribution of containers and products to the rest of Germany and Europe using its network.

Author: Nikos Papatolios

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