UTI Offers Rail Shipping Between China and Europe
UTi Worldwide Inc., a supply chain management company, just began a regular two-way rail service for freight running between China and Europe. Shipments are guaranteed weekly in hopes to give overseas clients an option for transporting goods and cargo that is more cost-effective than air and faster than ship. The move was announced in Hamburg, Germany during a ceremony including UTi representatives, clients of the company and their partners in the project.
“We are excited to provide economical and reliable rail service between China and Europe to our clients,” said Ditlev Blicher, UTi President, Freight Forwarding. “This is only the first link in our Iron Silk Road rail service and only one of the many ways we are serving the logistics requirements of automotive, aerospace and other manufacturers.”
The rail is part of the realized Iron Silk Road, named after the historical silk road routes taken along this path. In the 1950s, the Trans-Asian Railway (TAR), also known as the Iron Silk Road, was a project started by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) in an effort to link a continuous 8,750 miles of freight railway between Singapore, Istanbul and Turkey with sights set to continue across all of Europe and Africa.
Because shipping and aviation were not as developed in the 50s, this project was expected to speed up shipping between Europe and Asia as well as reduce costs. Development stalled for the next 40 years or so due to political and economic hindrances, but picked up again in the 1990s when some of the countries the railway would cross began to build better relations with one another. In November of 2006, 17 Asian nations signed the Trans-Asian Railway Network Agreement, which came into force in June of 2009.
The TAR will contain 4 major routes. The Northern Corridor will connect Europe and the Pacific, crossing through Germany, Poland, Belarus, Russia, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, China, and the Koreas. The Southern Corridor will link Europe and Southeast Asia, connecting Turkey, Iran, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Myanmar, and Thailand. The Southeast Asian network is mostly in place; made up of the Kunming–Singapore Railway. The North-South Corridor will connect Northern Europe, starting in Finland and running through Russia to the Persian Gulf. UTi’s portion on the rail is the first network between Harbin, China and Hamburg, Germany and the journey takes about 15 days. The first runs on the new Iron Silk Road consisted of 41 eastbound containers and 46 others headed west carrying automotive equipment, consumer goods and other cargo. To kick of the new service, UTi is giving promotional pricing until the end of September 2015 in hopes to gain customers that normally move cargo via other routes. Trains can also run into northern China and northern Europe in a few extra days at no added on-carriage cost to the shipper. Business partners in this joint venture include Changjiu Logistics, China’s leading independent automotive logistics company, Harbin Railway Bureau; and Dalian Port Investment Corp. Together with UTi, they make up HAO Logistics Co., Ltd. Bilcher said, “The establishment of HAO Logistics helps attract more investment into Heilongjiang province, and we believe it will elevate UTi’s brand awareness and penetration in the northeastern region of China as well.”