You might not have realized it, but there are actually freight trains running between China and Western Europe (including The Netherlands). It’s not that surprising though as Asia and Europe is a connected landmass. Since 2016 there has been a direct freight train service from Chengdu, Central China to Rotterdam. This train takes about 15 days to complete the 11,000 km journey. The transportation of goods via railroads costs about a quarter of what airfreight costs. At the same time it is about twice as expensive as sea cargo. The Chengdu-Rotterdam Express holds 41 containers.
The benefits of the Chengdu-Rotterdam freight train
This goods train is between 6 and 16 days faster than a container ship from coastal China to the port of Rotterdam. A freight train is less affected by weather conditions than a ship on the open ocean.
If time if of the essence for an importer, this cargo train can definitely prove to be advantageous. Goods that are time-sensitive, i.e. if consumers want the product before it gets outdated, will arrive in time while being cheaper than air freight.
Chengdu is a huge city of 16 million souls in the interior of China, and one of three important business centers in Western China (along with Chongqing and Xi’an). Manufacturing not only takes place in coastal China, Chengdu too has a diversified economic profile. Interestingly, almost half the world’s iPads are assembled in Chengdu. Having business partners near the city of Chengdu provides a great incentive to utilize the freight train to Rotterdam. When using traditional ocean-going vessels, goods first have to be transported to a seaport which takes up to 4 days by truck.
The disadvantages of the Chengdu-Rotterdam train
The train is faster a ship, but departs from Chengdu, a city deep in the interior of China. It is located about 2000 km from Shanghai, and 1800 km from Beijing. So when ordering goods from a factory in coastal China, you first have to transport those goods to Chengdu before being loaded onto the train. It’s a simple fact that most manufacturers are located in Eastern China.
Intercontinental cargo transit by train is still in its infancy. Each train unit holds only 41 containers, while the average container ship carries at least 18,000 of them. Techniques like combining smaller loads together don’t work well in this setup. Therefore the principle of economies of scale don’t hold up anymore. In other words, only in very specific cases can the Chengdu freight train offer benefits over traditional methods of transport. For the vast majority of business owners the trusty old container ship is still the best option for their import needs.
Flexible, affordable and reliable: the container ship
With the way transport nodes are arranged in the world, nothing beats the container ship for transporting intermodal containers in bulk. Even though it is slower than the train, the possibilities in terms of groupage it offers in unmatched. For any product that is not extremely time-sensitive achieving the lower price for transport is essential. Experienced companies like Ademar B.V. from Rotterdam have a huge network of contacts in the world of shipping and can guarantee a low price for any container. By knowing how to apply groupage effectively, the prices for transport are unmatched. Give Ademar a call or send an e-mail to find out about all the possibilities.