Freight Rail, Rail Supply

Preference shifts towards rail to deliver international cargo


Transcontinental rail networks could have the potential to overtake cargo movements via air and sea.

Mail-only trains from China are helping clear the large backlog of mail destined for Europe and deliver essential medical supplies.

In a world first, The ‘China Post’ CR Express, carried mail and two containers of medical supplies from Chongqing, China to Vilnius, the capital city of Lithuania on April 4.

The ‘China Post’ CR Express block train has a total of 44 containers with about 300 tons of postal parcels, including 42 containers of international postal parcels from Beijing, Guangdong, Hunan, and Chongqing, and two of medical supplies purchased by the Lithuanian government. 

China Post decided to start an emergency program to send out those international postal parcels via Youxinou International Railway instead of mailing them by air from Beijing, Shanghai, and Shenzhen.

It cuts what was a five-week shipping period to about two weeks, and costs 80 percent less than airfreight.

Yuxinou International Railway stated in early April that it plans to dispatch one or two block trains of international postal parcels every week.

Following this initiative, Maersk has now introduced its first rail service from China to Turkey as a part of the Maersk Intercontinental Rail service network.

Kasper Krog, head of AP Moller – Maersk Intercontinental Rail, said after successfully launching its Intercontinental Rail (ICR) service from China to Europe three years ago, the company has seen an increase in demand by its customers for this particular service from different locations across both Asia and Europe.

“Due to its strategic geographical location, wide industry sector, as well as all ambitious initiatives taken by the government to improve the rail infrastructure across the country we decided to launch ICR in Turkey not only for those companies located within the country but also as a link between Asia and Europe,” he said.

With the help of a feeder network of Sealand, owned by Maersk, the ICR offers its customers links to Black Sea, Eastern Europe, and Southern European countries through the port of Korfez in Izmit.

The rail service is expected to benefit customers who require fast delivery of goods in the automotive and technology industries.

Australia is improving its rail infrastructure at the port by providing a new rail operating framework inside the Port of Melbourne.

Brendan Bourke, CEO of Port of Melbourne said the $125 million project is aiming to increase the amount of containers moved by rail, improving operations at the port, with construction expected to commence before the end of this year.

Sal Milici, Freight and Trade Alliance (FTA) head of border and biosecurity, said increased rail utilisation is necessary to meet the long term forecasted trade growth.

“We applaud the initiative being driven by the Port of Melbourne which will ultimately facilitate the expansion and incentivisation for commercial interests to invest in metropolitan intermodals,” he said.

“An important element of our post COVID-19 economic recovery will be on a strong and vibrant manufacturing and agriculture sectors. A seamless interface to the port for these exporters will be essential.”