Since the beginning of June, DB Cargo Eurasia offers a weekly service from Immingham in the UK to Hefei in China, via the German port of Cuxhaven. The service, which runs both ways, includes a shipping line between Immingham and Cuxhaven and further on to Hamburg. Here, goods are transloaded on the train. The entire journey takes 18 to 20 days, and there is regular demand, the company notes.
Just last year, the connection of the UK to the New Silk Road network was sporadic. The London-based Belt and Road specialist Henry Tillman spoke at a conference in October saying the British were ‘failing to fully exploit the opportunities for overland trade’. Although the first Yiwu-London service on the New Silk Road was launched with great fanfare, there was not much demand for the service and it stopped operating. This service was operated by the sister company DB Cargo UK.
In 2020, the landscape looks quite different. The British isle is eager to look into the rail option, and DB Cargo Eurasia has fully understood this demand. «Railway is a good alternative for urgent cargo. It also ideally suits high-value industrial products such as finished vehicles, automobile parts, equipment and also some seasonal products that need to be transported quickly and at the same time not that pricey like air freight.»
According to DB Cargo Eurasia, there are several factors that have played a role in the increased demand. «Some customers have switched from sea freight to railway, some are still ‘testing’ this route. The pandemic has also played its role and some customers switched to railways for a quicker, and at the same time less expensive alternative from air freight.»
«Railway solutions minimise the risk of delays caused by bad weather conditions or port congestion. If sudden delays or force-majors happen there are more opportunities for a ‘back-up’ plan.» But in general, trade between China and the UK has developed during the last years, the company continues. «There are quite some manufacturers in the UK and China that depend on each other.»
For DB Cargo Eurasia, the options to connect the UK are plenty. It already operates a broad network from different EU terminals to several ports on the UK coast. The main ports it serves in the UK are Immingham port, Teesport and Hull ports in the north east, and Purfleet and Harwich ports in the south east.
«These are existing routes, which we can use based on the demand of our customers. We are also offering pre- and on-carriage services to any destination in the UK or China», the company says.