Making History Moving Freight by Rail from Asia to Europe

While most goods move today by air and water from Asia to Europe, the first shipment of Fujitsu Siemens Computers (FSC) via rail marks what DB Schenker says will be regular service to begin after Chinese New Year in February 2009. Mazda is transporting vehicles from Japan to Russian by rail, as well.

While shipping by air is more expensive, it does take the least time. According to Fujitsu Siemens moving goods by ocean takes between 30 and 35 days. “Compared with airfreight, rail transport saves us roughly a quarter of the costs and also 95 % of CO2 emissions. Rail transport, therefore, is quite obviously the best choice from both the economic and the ecological point of view,” says FSC’s senior vice president supply operations, Heribert Göggerle.

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DB Schenker is calling the service the Trans Eurasia Express. At the outset it will move two container trains weekly between China and Germany in less than 20 days. The first FSC shipment moved 10,000 kilometers by rail in 18 days. Moving through China and Mongolia when the shipment reached the Russian border it followed the Trans-Siberian Railway to Moscow, then across Belarus and Poland on to Hamburg.

Hartmut Mehdorn, CEO and chairman of the DB Schenker management board, observes, “Thanks to our cooperation with five other railways, including the Chinese and Russian railways, we are now able to open up an attractive and reliable new trade route for our customers between the markets in China and Europe. We are thus offering an attractive supplement to slower ocean freight and significantly more expensive air freight.”

The Trans-Siberian Railroad is being used by Mazda Motor Corp. to bring vehicles from its Hiroshima or Hofu assembly plants to Zarubino—near Vladivostok in Russia—then over the 9,300-kilometer rail route on to Moscow. Delivery time to Moscow is ten days.

There is great demand for Mazdas in Russia. The manufacturer presently uses deliveries to Russia via ocean transport and over the road. Both modes will continue and be supplemented by the new rail delivery system.

Mazda is the first manufacturer of automobiles to regularly use such rail for its transportation. Movement will be handled on dedicated block trains of 30 railcars. The service is a result of collaboration between Russian Railroad and RailTransAuto, Mazda’s rail provider.

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