First inland rail service connecting Liverpool to the English Midlands

Well known in maritime circles, the company of DKT Allseas (part of the Allseas Logistics Group) has announced a new multi-modal extension to complement its trans-oceanic China Xpress container service, successfully launched earlier this year. After a one-week shakedown, intermodal trains are now scheduled to run five days a week between Liverpool’s container handling docks and Freightliner’s Birmingham Terminal. 

The inland transfer, which DKT Allseas is calling a first for the company, forms part of their China Xpress service, providing a timely alternative to road transport, in the light of issues affecting the trucking sector in the UK. The new intermodal service takes advantage of capacity enhancements introduced into the Liverpool port freight route over the past few years.

Supply chain critical service

According to the company, the new inland service will carry 26 x 60ft wagons enabling DKT Allseas to move up to 76 x 20ft (1TEU) or 26 x 40ft and 26 x 20ft containers of freight per day. The new rail service offers a fast and reliable alternative to road transport for its customers at a time when road hauliers are struggling to source enough drivers to service the demand.

Ships arriving at Liverpool can tranship containers direct to Birmingham with the new DKT Allseas service

David Huck, Managing Director at Peel Ports, the operators of the Port of Liverpool said they had been working with DKT Allseas since February on the sea and overland concept. “This year and since its inception, the China Xpress liner service has gone from strength to strength over a very short period”, he said. “Launched as a temporary supply chain critical service, fast forward nine months and we are delighted to see this now part of an established route positioning the Port of Liverpool as a viable call for Far East services.”

Another tangible logistics solution

Collaboration with rail freight operations has been a keystone to the UK end of the operation, and a source of reliability for customers. Darren Wright, Managing Director at DKT Allseas said the China Xpress service was the first of its kind to offer a direct service call, providing a gateway from the Far East direct into the heart of the UK’s cargo owning community. “An initiative born out of necessity and frustration to provide relief to customers facing increased ocean freight rates and reduced reliability due to the knock-on impacts of the global pandemic”, he said. “As those frustrations permeate the UK with the widely publicised HGV driver shortages, this new rail service further enhances the China Xpress by providing another tangible logistics solution to our customers.”

Vindicates capacity enhancements

Rail freight has made the service much more sustainable, and acceptable to the wider community on Merseyside, where industrial road traffic is a constant issue. “Another significant upside is the amount of traffic this service will remove from road further enhancing Allseas approach to sustainable logistics”, said Wright. 

Intermodal growth continues (Freightliner)

This new inland intermodal service also relieves pressure on the wider highway network into Merseyside, and further vindicates the capacity enhancements carried out in the past few years on the Liverpool docks freight lines. Liverpool City Region recently gained freeport status under the UK government’s economic development initiative. 

Since the initial sailing in February, DKT Allseas has expanded its China Xpress service from one to three ports in China, including Shanghai and Ningbo, direct to Liverpool. More traffic for the new route? More than likely.

Author: Simon Walton

Simon Walton is RailFreight's UK correspondent.

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